A Trump-appointed judge ruled against a new Tennessee law which sought to restrict “adult cabaret entertainment,” interpreted as drag show, to venues not accessible by minors.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Parker ruled Friday that the law signed by Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee restricting drag show performances within the state was “unconstitutionally vague” and as such would encourage “discriminatory enforcement,” CNN reported.
A federal judge says Tennessee’s first-in-the-nation law designed to place strict limits on drag shows is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker wrote that the law was too vague and broad and encouraged “discriminatory enforcement.” https://t.co/uOhJoxcnE4
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 3, 2023
“There is no question that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. But there is a difference between material that is ‘obscene’ in the vernacular, and material that is ‘obscene’ under the law,” Parker explained, according to Fox News.
“Simply put, no majority of the Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit — but not obscene — speech receives less protection than political, artistic, or scientific speech,” he continued. (RELATED: ‘Not A Suitable Use’: Pentagon Cancels Air Force Base Drag Show Right Before Pride Month)
Parker’s ruling came after the judge issued a temporary injunction on the law, which was supposed to go into effect April 1. An LGBTQ+ theatre troop known as Friends of George’s had filed a lawsuit, arguing that the scope of the bill was inconsistent and too subjective in its wording.
Proponents of the law have maintained the law was never intended to ban drag shows outright, but merely sought to prevent overtly sexual performances from being displayed in front of children. While Parker acknowledged their intent to protect the “psychological and physical wellbeing of children” was compelling, the “overly broad” nature of the law violated the First Amendment rights of performers, Parker continued, according to CNN.
Friend’s of George’s celebrated Friday’s ruling, calling it a “triumph over hate,” according to Fox News. “Similar to the countless battles the LGBTQ+ community has faced over the last several decades, our collective success relies upon everyone speaking out and taking a stand against bigotry,” Friends of George’s stated, according to the outlet.
Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti announced his office will be reviewing the ruling and intends to appeal the judge’s decision, CNN reported.
“The scope of this law has been misrepresented in public by those more interested in pressing a narrative than in reading the statutory text. The Adult Entertainment Act remains in effect outside of Shelby County. This narrowly-tailored law protects minors from exposure to sexually explicit performances. Its operative language is rooted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s long-established First Amendment precedent,” Skrmetti argued, according to the outlet.