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"Pole Tax" Struck Down

Uptight social conservatives will do anything they can to shut down or burden erotic expression. From attempting outright bans on nude dancing to employing the specious “adverse secondary effects” doctrine, their lack of ethics in the war against sexual expression knows no bounds.

Texas, home of the legislature that has a screaming fear of dildos, imposed a $5 per patron tax on strip club admission.

The Legislature enacted the adult entertainment fee, effective Jan. 1, and dedicated the first $25 million to sexual assault prevention and additional revenue to low-income health care. The fee was expected to raise more than $50 million for health care in its first two years. (source)

Texas Judge Scott H. Jenkins lived up to his oath of office, but likely cost himself any chance of being named to the Texas Supreme Court any time in this century by holding that the tax ran afoul of the First Amendment. He looked at the tax and concluded that either the legislature was trying to place an illegal burden upon nude dancing, and was simply using the $5 tax for sexual assault victims and health care as a pretext; or, the tax simply unfairly singled out one form of First Amendment protected business to carry this burden. In either event, the First Amendment demanded that he axe the pole tax.

Had there been some connection between strip clubs and the Legislature’s fund-raising scheme, the tax might have survived. However, the Court held:

“There is no evidence that combining alcohol with nude erotic dancing causes dancers to be uninsured, that any dancer is in fact uninsured, or that any uninsured dancer could qualify for assistance from the fund. (source)”

The judge’s decision may be found here. Sorry about the poor quality.

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