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Video Store Challenges Tennessee Law

Tennessee- Metro government has the right to enforce a state law that bars certain adult-entertainment shops from doing business round the clock, a Davidson County judge has ruled.

The decision by Circuit Judge Walter Kurtz comes after the owners of a Dickerson Pike video store filed suit challenging the state law, which restricts the hours of operation of some adult businesses.

Metro officials in August began enforcing the law, which says the businesses must close midnight to 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and all day on Sundays and holidays.

Law enforcement officials have maintained that the forced closures are necessary because the businesses have attracted prostitutes and street criminals in the middle of the night.

The owners of Silver Video USA, who operate adult-oriented shops on Dickerson and Gallatin pikes, were the first in Metro to challenge the law.

Now that they’ve lost, their attorney is vowing to take the issue to a higher court.

”We’ll appeal to the Court of Appeals, so life goes on,” said Nashville lawyer John Herbison.

The state law, which passed in 1995, was upheld in a federal court after a Knoxville adult business owner sued. Metro officials had waited for the federal court to act before enforcing the law here.

Herbison, the lawyer for the video shop, contended that the state law restricts free expression, is unconstitutionally vague and overly broad, and violates his clients’ right to be free from undue governmental interference and their right to equal protection under the law.

Herbison also had argued the state constitution provides more protection of his client’s business rights than the U.S. Constitution. Kurtz ruled that the state constitution does not provide any more protection of adult-oriented businesses than the U.S. Constitution, said Doug Sloan, an attorney with Metro’s Department of Law.

Kurtz also found that the legislature, in restricting the hours of adult-oriented establishments, could consider the possible negative effects of such businesses.

”These secondary effects of adult businesses include crime, health problems, reduction of economic activity, and lowered property value,” the judge wrote in his order, issued Feb. 25.

The judge also found that curtailing the hours does not violate the operators’ right to be free of unwarranted governmental interference.

One of Herbison’s clients can’t understand why his family’s businesses were singled out.

”What’s the difference between the adult-dancing cabarets and our store?” asked Anthony Cross, whose father owns both video stores.

Cross said he doesn’t understand why a married couple cannot pick up an adult video at 1 a.m. but a husband can get a lap dance at a strip club at 3 a.m.



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