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A request from Texas’ strip club industry to review whether the state’s $5 cover charge infringes upon free speech has been denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Sexually Oriented Business Fee Act of Texas, commonly referred to as “pole” tax, was passed and signed into law in 2007 with the intention to raise funds for sexual assault and low-income health insurance programs.
The Texas Supreme Court, composed entirely of Republicans, ruled unanimously in August declaring the fee as constitutional, adding that such fee is too small to be considered a burden on free speech. It also added that the state has legitimate interest in combating the secondary effects of violence linked to alcohol and adult entertainment.
In the ruling, Justice Nathan Hecht stated that the tax is not directed at nude dancing, but rather, at the “secondary effects of nude dancing when alcohol is being consumed.” Justice Hecht also suggested that business establishments can “avoid the fee altogether simply by not allowing alcohol to be consumed.”
A petition seeking to review the case was rejected by the Supreme Court last week without any comment.
During an interview with a media outfit in Texas, the state’s former Solicitor General, James Ho, said that the state Supreme Court’s “quick rejection of the petition for review should surprise no one.”
Ho also said, “Over the past half century, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld laws far more restrictive than Texas law. If those laws are constitutional, then so too is Texas law.”