US Supreme Court won’t reconsider Utah tax targeting nude bars
Denali v. Utah State Tax Commission, No. 09-1442 (U.S. cert. denied Oct. 12, 2010)
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the Utah’s Supreme Court’s ruling in Bushco v. Utah State Tax Commission, No. 20070559 (Utah Nov. 20, 2009). The Utah Supreme Court summarized its earlier ruling as follows:
In 2004, the Utah legislature enacted the Sexually Explicit Business and Escort Service Tax1 (the “Tax”), which imposes a 10 percent gross receipts tax on businesses whose employees or independent contractors (1) perform services while nude or partially nude for thirty days or more per year, or (2) provide companionship to another individual in exchange for compensation. The revenue generated by the Tax helps fund treatment programs for convicted sex offenders and investigations of internet crimes against children.
Plaintiffs, a group of escort service agencies and erotic dancing clubs, challenge the Tax as a violation of their First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. We hold that the statutory provisions imposing the Tax on businesses whose employees provide services while nude are constitutional as a content-neutral regulation of conduct that imposes de minimis burdens on protected expression. However, we conclude that the provisions applying the Tax to escort services are unconstitutionally vague.