Federal Court upholds Knox County SOB regulations
Richland Bookmart, Inc. v. Knox County, 529 F.Supp.2d 868, 2007 WL 4480138 (E.D.Tenn.; Dec. 17, 2007)
Knox County SOB regulations (including hours-of-operation, alcohol sales prohibition, and denial of licensing to criminals convicted of sexual crimes) are found constitutional.
On December 17th, District Court Judge Thomas W. Phillips (Eastern District of Tennessee at Knoxville) upheld a Knox County Ordinance O-05-2-102 establishing “registration and licensing requirements for sexually-oriented businesses.” After reviewing secondary effects evidence, the Ordinance was passed on Feb. 28th, 2005. An amended ordinance was adopted on March 25, 2005. Plaintiffs (Richland Bookmart, Inc. and Knoxville Adult Video Superstore) filed a lawsuit on May 3rd, 2005, seeking injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment holding the Ordinance unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment (complaint here).
Using “the Renton standard as modified by Alameda Books,” and finding that Knox County “demonstrated that its Ordinance was intended to combat secondary effect . . . and not speech itself,” the Court upheld the constitutionality of the county’s regulation of local sexually-oriented businesses. This regulation includes: hours-of-operation restrictions; forbidding the sale of alcohol; “denial of licensure to those convicted of ‘specified criminal activity’” (the Court here found that “dealing in controlled substances” and “racketeering” are not related to the “crime-control intent of the Ordinance” and should be removed from it); definitions of “nude” and “semi-nude”; and a requirement that “anyone with a 30% or more interest in a sexually-oriented business sign the application for license.
Richland Bookmart and Knoxville Adult Video Superstore also challenged the inclusion under the Ordinance of any business in which “adult” content makes up 35% or more of its product. The court found that, since both businesses were “admittedly nearly 100% adult material,” they did not have standing to raise the issue.