On Thursday, Justice Louis York of the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan held unconstitutional and unnecessary, a set of amendments made in 2001 to regulate the city’s strip clubs, topless bars and adult video and book stores.
Giving his ruling on two lawsuits filed by a group of adult-entertainment businesses against the city, York said, “These entities no longer operate in an atmosphere placing more dominance of sexual matters over non-sexual ones.” The ruling is meant for establishments that offer adult-entertainment side-by-side with non x-rated services.
York said today’s adult entertainment businesses significantly differed from their predecessors as they use less garish signage and segregate their erotica from mainstream parts of their businesses. The 2001 amendments barred many such “adult enterprises” from operating closer than 500 feet from other sexually oriented venues, or from places of worship, schools, and residential neighborhoods. This rule was applicable only to establishments that devote more than 40 percent of their space or inventory to sexually explicit activities. Otherwise, even within the amendments, establishments which confined adult material and activities to less than 40 percent of their space or inventory, could operate anywhere within the city. Now, anyone can.
The court reached the decision of careful review of studies that showed the presence of adult establishments do not increase crime rates or lower property value. York said, “Accordingly there is no need for the 2001 amendments … they are a violation of free-speech provisions of the U.S. and state Constitutions.”
Robin Binder, the deputy chief of the administrative law division of the City Law Department said the agency would appeal the decision. Binder said in a statement, “The city’s ability to regulate adult establishments is critical to preserving neighborhood quality of life.”