Arkansas AG Seeks to Intervene in Adam & Eve's Suit Against City

Arkansas AG Seeks to Intervene in Adam & Eve's Suit Against City

JONESBORO, Ark. — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has asked to intervene in a federal lawsuit filed by a franchise operator of Adam & Eve that is suing the mayor of Jonesboro, Ark., after the city denied permits the business needed to open its doors.

Rutledge last week filed a motion to intervene to defend Arkansas’ statute, §14-1-302, which defines adult bookstores and video stores, and join the suit.

Last year, Adam & Eve Jonesboro LLC sought and was denied a conditional-use permit and certificate of occupancy after it planned to operate its business close to a church on South Caraway Road in Jonesboro.

Adam & Eve, in its suit naming Mayor Harold Perrin as principal defendant, claims that terms of the Jonesboro statute are “largely undefined, unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, and are arbitrarily enforced” and has asked U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall to either declare the statute unconstitutional or determine that the statute doesn’t apply to its business.

According to the lawsuit, the city stated that some of the items Adam & Eve planned to sell would cause it to fall into the adult bookstores and video stores classification.

The suit claims the "statute is an unconstitutional prior restraint on protected speech, is unconstitutionally vague and overboard, is not narrowly tailored to serve a substantial government interest, is arbitrarily and capriciously enforced by the defendants, and violates [Adam & Eve Jonesboro LLC’s] right to equal protection."

The complaint, filed in February, described the Adam & Eve store as one that will “sell a combination of lingerie, adult apparel, costumes, bachelorette supplies, novelties, games and massage oils and personal lubricants, and that is intended to sell a combination of adult and nonadult products for off-premises use and consumption.”

The suit points out that the business “does not operate, and is not intended to operate, booths, stalls, or partitioned portions of a room or individual rooms for the on-premises viewing of movies or other entertainment with adult content.” The store also won’t feature live entertainment or dancing, the suit said.

Although the city of Jonesboro issued a privilege license allowing Adam & Eve to do business within the municipality’s boundaries, it contends the proposed location requires the owners to apply for and receive a conditional-use permit as well.

The city of Jonesboro contends that the proposed site is near a church, putting it in violation of state law, which sets a 1,000-foot restriction from designated places, such as residential use areas and schools, and a city ordinance that increases the distance to 2,000 feet.

With the motion to intervene, Rutledge filed answers to Adam & Eve Jonesboro LLC complaint against the mayor. It has asked the court to dismiss the complaint.