Mo. Law Banning Lap Dances Unconstitutional
.KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A new state law banning seminude lap dances at Missouri strip clubs was declared unconstitutional by a judge Friday, two days before it was to go into effect.
Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan said provisions of the law violate First Amendment protections and state constitutional limits on amending a bill beyond its original purpose.
“The state may not limit persons of majority age from engaging in lawful expressive conduct protected by the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution without a substantial and direct connection to adverse secondary effects, a showing that has not been made,” Callahan said in the declaratory judgment.
Under the law, signed in July by Gov. Matt Blunt, seminude lap dances would have been banned and dancers would have had to stay at least 10 feet from each other. Customers would have faced misdemeanor charges for tucking money into a dancers’ G-strings, and the minimum age for dancers and customers would have risen from 19 to 21.
The adult entertainment industry’s attorneys had argued the law violated free-speech and expression rights, and they also said it violated a state constitutional requirement that bills relate to one subject and remain tied to their original purpose.
The bill that included the strip club restrictions initially was labeled as a bill for alcohol-related traffic offenses but was passed under the heading of “crime.”
The attorney general’s office said it was reviewing the judge’s decision and didn’t yet know what actions it might take.
Joe Spinello, general manager of the Shady Lady Lounge in Kansas City, said the restrictions probably would have forced him to cut staff. He said clubs hurt most by law would be ones that rely on customers and employees who are under 21.