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Nude Dancing Ruling Stands

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court won’t consider a lawsuit brought by several Utah exotic dancers required by city ordinance to wear G-strings and pasties, passing on the case Monday. By refusing to hear the case, the court left intact a South Salt Lake city ordinance passed in 2001 that prohibits nudity in sexually oriented businesses, preventing dancers at American Bush and other South Salt Lake clubs from taking it all off. Attorney Andrew McCullough, who filed the appeal on behalf of several of the strippers who claimed the ordinance hurt their livelihood, said he was disappointed the court rejected his appeal, but not surprised. “The show will go on,” he said. “I was in there Friday night and you couldn’t have found a seat to save your soul.” South Salt Lake City Attorney David Carlson said the decision shows that the city’s ordinance was crafted to comply with the existing law and the scant restrictions “still doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination.” The high court also rejected two other Utah appeals – one from the state, challenging a deal between an American Indian tribe and a billboard company that put signs on tribal land in St. George; the other an appeal from an inmate convicted of murder. For a decade prior to the city ordinance, all-nude dancing had been allowed in South Salt Lake. But in May 2001, the city changed the rules and restricted dancers from wearing anything less than G-strings and pasties. The city’s stated goal was cutting down on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, prostitution and other crime and improving the city’s cleanliness. The dancers challenged it in state court and in federal court and lost in both venues. The Utah Supreme Court issued a ruling in July that said there is no indication that the authors of the Utah Constitution ever intended to protect nude dancing as a form of expression. In the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that the Supreme Court declined to review, the judges held that the dancers had failed to disprove the city’s rationale for imposing the restrictions. Carlson said the city has been enforcing the ordinance since 2002, although there have not been a lot of citations issued in that time. “It has resulted in one business being closed in the sense that the business didn’t comply with it,” he said. Carlson said that Leather And Lace has closed up shop since the ordinance was enacted. Paradise Modeling, which was a party in the original lawsuit, also closed after its owner died. McCullough said that, in response to the ordinance, another all-nude strip club has opened outside of South Salt Lake. “From my point of view it’s like whack-a-mole,” he said. “They think they got us and they didn’t.”

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