Trump Judge Rules Law Protecting Minors From Adult Shows ‘Unconstitutionally Vague’

A first-in-the-nation Tennessee law designed to restrict drag shows and protect children from sexualized performances has been been declared “unconstitutionally vague” by a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, issued the ruling on Friday, adding that he felt the law was “overly broad,” encouraged “discriminatory enforcement,” and jeopardized the First Amendment rights of the drag performers.

“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 described in his ruling.

“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.”

Had the law been upheld, it would have banned adult cabaret performances from public property and from anywhere that children might be present.

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Friends of George’s, a Memphis-based LGBT theater company, first challenged the law in March, blocking it from ever taking effect. The drag troupe argued in their lawsuit that the law would have hurt their business, which provides “drag-centric performances, comedy sketches, and plays” without any age restrictions.

On Saturday, the group described the ruling as “triumph over hate.”

“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,” ~ Statement issued by Friends of George’s

Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, one of the sponsors behind the original bill, described the ruling as “perplexing.”

“Sadly, this ruling is a victory for those who support exposing children to sexual entertainment,” ~ Sen. Jack Johnson

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Before being blocked by an injunction in late March, the law was originally set to take effect on April 1. It would have defined “male and female impersonators” as adult cabaret performers, in addition to banning “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors… and that feature go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators, or similar entertainers.” Republican Governor Bill Lee signed the bill into law in early March.

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