Friday, October 10, 2008

CAP: New AZ Supreme Court Ruling on SOB's Fails Families

Today the Arizona Supreme Court issued a disappointing ruling in a case challenging the Arizona law that limits the hours of operation of sexually-oriented businesses. The law requires that sexually-oriented businesses close between 1:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday and between 1:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. noon on Sunday. Instead of upholding the law and protecting families and neighborhoods from the harmful effects of sexually-oriented businesses, the Supreme Court came up with a new test that makes it harder for communities to protect themselves from these harmful effects.

The Arizona Supreme Court's decision sends the case back to the trial court for more proceedings about why the law is needed, despite the fact that the law addresses problems like litter, drug use, and crimes against property and people. After ten years of legal wrangling, this sensible law remains mired in the Arizona courts. Today's decision not only delays the resolution of this case, but also gives sexually-oriented businesses and their lawyers an upper hand over Arizona communities and neighborhoods.

Closing-hours laws like Arizona's have been upheld by state and federal courts all over the country, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals specifically upheld Arizona's law in 2003. But, the Arizona Supreme Court decided that sexually-explicit speech should receive greater protection under the Arizona Constitution than under the First Amendment! That simply ignores the facts and the history of the Arizona Constitution. The framers of the Arizona Constitution did not intend to protect sexually-explicit materials. Those materials were not even legal at the time our constitution was written!

In terms of its legal analysis, the Court's opinion waffles back and forth between federal standards and new state standards that the Court is making up as it goes along. When it comes to an issue of this importance, Arizonans deserve better from the five justices on the Supreme Court.

CAP was instrumental in passing the closing-hours law in 1998. CAP thanks Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas for his efforts to enforce this law that protects families from the harmful effects of sexually-oriented businesses. In June of this year, CAP attorneys filed a "friend of the court" brief with the Arizona Supreme Court in support of the State of Arizona's attempt to enforce the law.

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