(Reuters) - A federal appeals court said Louisiana can enforce a law banning nude dancing in strip clubs by people under age 21, overturning an injunction against the ban and reversing its own ruling that the law might be unconstitutional.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans had on Sept. 20 found the 2016 law vague about how much of dancers’ breasts or buttocks could be exposed legally, and said it was unlikely to survive a First Amendment challenge.
But after Louisiana sought a new hearing, the same-three judge panel concluded on Friday that “ordinary people” would understand that the law required full coverage of breasts and buttocks, which were “commonly understood” anatomical terms.
The decision is a defeat for three erotic dancers, each identified as Jane Doe, who were ages 18, 19 and 20 when they sued in Sept. 2016 to overturn the law.
“They want to wear the bare minimum, but the Constitution does not guarantee them that level of specificity,” Circuit Judge Leslie Southwick wrote. “The State’s failure to define exactly where at the anatomical margins the bare minimum lies does not render the Act unconstitutionally vague on its face.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The office of Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry did not immediately respond to similar requests.
Friday’s decision vacated an injunction issued in March 2017 by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans.
Southwick said the plaintiffs could still challenge how Louisiana enforces the law, which applies to venues serving alcohol.
The case is Doe et al v Landry et al, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 17-30292.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio
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