Wednesday, November 28, 2007

CAP: AZ Court of Appeals upholds laws regulating S.O.B.'s

Breaking News: Legal Victory for Safe Communities!

Today, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that a CAP-supported law limiting the hours of operation of sexually-oriented businesses is constitutional! This crucial legal victory is due to God's faithfulness. There were many, many miracles along the way.

In 1998, Len Munsil and I worked very hard urging the Arizona Legislature to restrict the hours that sex businesses remain open. The Legislature weighed the evidence and concluded that sex businesses carry with them harmful effects that threaten every community where they locate. The Legislature passed and Gov. Hull signed into law SB 1162, which required that sex businesses close between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday.

But the fight for this law was just beginning! Lawyers for the sex industry in Arizona filed lawsuits in both state and federal courts. In 2003, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the law is consistent with the federal Constitution. The Ninth Circuit got it right, but the result from our own state courts was very disappointing. In 2002, Division Two of the Arizona Court of Appeals - which sits in Tucson - ruled that part of the law was unconstitutional under the Arizona Constitution. Even though Division Two decisions are not controlling throughout Arizona, this one court ruling effectively allowed all sex businesses statewide to ignore the law.

The 2002 decision is an example of judges imposing their own version of the Constitution-one that "lives" and changes over time. That court ruled that the Arizona Constitution gives more leeway to the sex industry than the U.S. Constitution. The framers of the Arizona Constitution in 1910 did not establish "super protection" for sexually-explicit materials and businesses. In fact, at the time the Arizona Constitution was drafted and ratified such materials were illegal!

Thankfully, the matter did not end there. Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas brought charges against two sex-business owners for remaining open between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. This led to today's ruling by Division One of the Arizona Court of Appeals, which sits in Phoenix.

In August-thanks to your faithful support and the support of our friends at the Alliance Defense Fund-CAP General Counsel Peter Gentala submitted a "friend of the court" brief, arguing that the Court of Appeals should return to the original meaning of the Arizona Constitution. Today, the Court reached the right result:

[T]he Arizona Constitution provides no more protection for sexually-explicit speech than does the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. We further hold that A.R.S. § 13-1422, as applied to sexually-oriented businesses that do not feature live entertainment, does not violate the free speech provision in the Arizona Constitution.

You can read the court's opinion here and CAP's amicus brief by clicking here.

This victory was made possible by your faithful support of CAP. You enabled us to successfully lobby for the law nearly 10 years ago. And you have enabled us to stay in the fight to make sure that the law receives the strongest legal defense possible. The battle for this law is not over! This decision will doubtlessly be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court. Make no mistake, the sex industry is committed! They will pour considerable resources into winning at the Arizona Supreme Court.

CAP's voice-your voice-is more important now than ever before. Without CAP, the sex industry would have a free hand to pollute our neighborhoods.

As you consider year-end giving, we need your help to be able to continue our work passing these types of pro-family laws then being able to defend them against legal challenges. Within the next week or so, you will get a letter from me outlining our needs. Please keep a watch for the letter then prayerfully consider how you might be able to help us meet our significant budget challenges.

how you might be able to help us meet our significant budget challenges.

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