A San Diego, California judge has ruled that the state cannot take any action to prevent strip clubs from “being allowed to provide live adult entertainment,” and must allow them to reopen. The owners had argued their First Amendment rights were being violated and the judge agreed.
Meanwhile, places of worship are making the exact same argument about their First Amendment rights and remain closed.
Religious-liberty advocates said that the case could pave the way for lifting coronavirus restrictions against churches. Paul Jonna, special counsel for the Thomas More Society, which is representing churches challenging the restrictions, expressed confidence that this decision bodes well for the churches. If strip clubs are entitled to constitutional protections, then churches are as well, he told the Free Beacon.
“If you’re going to accept that argument that dancing nude is protected speech that’s so significant that it overcomes the government’s interest in regulating its citizens with COVID-19 orders, then obviously the divine worship of God, which is expressly mentioned in the First Amendment, should be held to a higher standard,” Jonna said.
In San Deigo, the latest round of lockdowns will allow barbers and beauty salons to stay open, but limit bars, restaurants, and gyms to outdoor business only.
Churches in California have been locked in legal struggles with state authorities for months as churches of different denominations take legal action to try to end the indefinite limitations on indoor services. Jonna said that the San Diego decision highlights “the absurdity” and double standards that have defined the state’s approach to lockdowns.
“A judge who understands the Constitution will recognize the absurdity of the current state of the law,” he said. “I think it’s a good sign that judges are starting to question whether the government has a legitimate interest in regulating any business or industry at this point.”