Five-Hour a Night Closing Requirement for Strip Joint Is Constitutional
Description Court refused to issue an injunction against a city ordinance that prohibited a nude-dancing nightclub from being open between 1 am and 6 am. While nude-dancing is protected expression by the First Amendment, the ordinance is narrowly tailored to serve the city interest of reducing problems from late-night drinking.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words City Ordinance; Hours Restriction; Nude Dancing
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The El Marocco Club is "a nightclub featuring various types of live entertainment including erotic and nude dancing." The only hours it was closed were between 1 and 6 a.m., which was in accordance with standard, city policy. It applied for an "After Hours License" to be able to stay open 24 hours a day. The license was granted by the city, but there were numerous complaints about it being open all night, so the city revoked the license, requiring it to be closed from 1 to 6 a.m. as before. The Club sued, contending the city has violated its right of free speech, so the ordinance restricting hours of operation is unconstitutional.
Decision No injunction against the city will be issued. "Nude or semi-nude dancing is entitled to First Amendment protection. However, nude dancing and alcohol consumption can produce the secondary effects of crime and deterioration in the community." To balance the competing interests, the Supreme Court has held that "A scheme that fails to set reasonable time limits on the decisionmaker creates the risk of indefinitely suppressing permissible speech." Here, the regulation is clear-the club may be open 19 hours a day; that is not an unreasonable restriction given the interest of the town to reduce the secondary effects, such as late-night drinking, from being open 24 hours a day. This restriction serves a substantial governmental interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.
Citation El Marocco Club, Inc. v. Fox, 110 F.Supp.2d 54 (D. R.I., 2000)

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