Clinton-nominated federal judge denies strip club ‘erection’ in ribald ruling


Gregg Re Editor
Font Size:

In a bizarre opinion filed on Monday in “The Case of the Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Bikini Top v. The (More) Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Pastie,” a federal district court judge pined longingly for now-deceased burlesque dancer Miss Wiggles, suggested that the parties involved reach a “happy ending” after engaging in “reasonable discovery intercourse” and experiencing “the peaks and valleys of litigation,” and formally denied a strip club’s effort to “seek an erection” by featuring mostly topless dancers, in defiance of San Antonio decency regulations.

Chief Judge Fred Biery, who was nominated to the bench in the Western District of Texas in 1993 by Bill Clinton, noted in the double-entendre-laced opinion that city ordinances require “sexually oriented businesses” (which Biery called “SOBs”), including those with dancers wearing anything less than bikini tops, to comply with a variety of burdensome building and licensing requirements.

The 35 Bar and Grille strip club, in an attempt to avoid being classified as an SOB, argued that the city ordinance violated the First Amendment by improperly restricting its dancers’ constitutional right to expression.

“Plaintiffs, and by extension their customers, seek an erection of a constitutional wall separating them from the regulatory power of city government,” Biery wrote.

The city countered that SOBs and exposed breasts contribute to reduced property values, violent crime and prostitution, making the regulation permissible — and the 35 Bar and Grille’s proposed constitutional “erection” impermissible.

After Biery mused that “the law does not require causation between nudity and naughtiness” and admitted that the case was so boring it could induce “insomnia,” he ultimately got around to denying the strip club’s request for injunction, unenthusiastically citing circuit court precedent and the potential harms to society in allowing unlicensed SOBs.

Biery, whose penchant for legal repartee drew the attention of the Wall Street Journal a few years ago, also inexplicably included in the opinion a full-page photograph of Miss Wiggles, whom he called “truly an exotic artist of physical self-expression even into her eighties.”

Read the opinion:

35 Bar and Grille v. City of SA – Order Re Prelim Injunction Part I