Industry Reps Sue Over Missouri Anti-Adult Law

Matt O'Conner
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A battle that has been heating up all year over a Missouri law regulating adult businesses is finally coming to a head as adult business owners, employees and patrons have filed suit in Cole County Circuit Court to strike down the statute before it takes effect Aug. 28.

The law seeks to ban nudity and lap dances, require dancers to stand at least 10 feet from customers and bar people younger than 21 from entering adult establishments.

The plaintiffs, who include the Association of Club Executives, Scope Pictures, Passions Video and a handful of strippers, claim the law is unconstitutional because it is too broad, covers too many topics and strays from the purpose of the original bill, which was to tighten the state’s drunk driving laws.

They are asking the court to grant an immediate, permanent injunction blocking enforcement of the law.

“We’re hopeful that the court will quickly rule on this,” attorney Dick Bryant said.

According to court documents, the plaintiffs claim they will suffer irreparable harm if the law is allowed to take effect, including “loss of business and income, additional expense, restriction of freedom of expression and other injuries.”

The strippers named in the challenge argue that nude dancing is “a beneficial social activity that creates … enjoyment for the person watching.”

“Plaintiffs wish to continue dancing and expressing themselves in this manner,” the motion states, “and believe that part of the beauty and meaning of the expression and its appreciation by those viewing it will be lost if they cannot continue to express themselves in this manner.”

A spokesman from Missouri’s attorney general’s office said the state is prepared to fight the matter in court. Missouri has been successful in defending several other restrictions on adult businesses in recent years, including a ban on adult-oriented billboards.