Friday, September 01, 2023

18-state coalition backs Tennessee in anti-drag law ruling appeal

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 By Jon Styf | The Center Square, Aug 30, 2023 -  Eighteen states have joined to file an amicus brief supporting Tennessee in its appeal of a ruling on its drag show law.

The amicus brief comes as Tennessee is appealing a ruling against the law to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The law was blocked by a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee after it was contested by Friends of George’s.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson led the coalition that also includes Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

“Protecting children from obscene and lewd behavior is not a new idea. We need to let kids be kids, and the state has legal authority to ensure their protection,” Wilson said. “I believe the Court wrongly ruled against the law, and I’m happy to lead a coalition of support for the law on appeal.”

A federal judge ruled the law to limit public drag show performances as an unconstitutional restriction on freedom of speech and ruled the restrictions were unconstitutional vague.

The law bans drag performances from public property and requires the performances to only take place in age-restricted venues.

The outlawed performances are those that include “nudity, sexual excitement, sexual conduct, excess violence or sadomasochistic abuse.”

The states’ amicus brief argues states do have the authority to restrict performances.

“… The district court disregarded decades of precedent that respects the role of legislatures—and state legislatures in particular—in shaping public policy,” the brief states. “The Tennessee legislature did not act with an impermissible purpose, and the Court’s holding to the contrary undermines basic principles of separation of powers. The judgment of the district court should be reversed.”

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