Federal court once again upholds Ohio’s Community Defense Act

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 11, 2008
CONTACT: Phil Burress or David Miller at (513) 733-5775


Federal court once again upholds Ohio’s Community Defense Act
Court rules that state law regulating sexually oriented businesses is constitutional

Cincinnati, OH – In a victory for families, the U.S. District Court in Cleveland ruled late Friday that a recent law passed by the Ohio General Assembly, known as the Community Defense Act, that regulates sexually oriented businesses is constitutional and can be enforced.

Last year, the voters of Ohio brought the bill to the Legislature through an initiative petition, arguing that such ordinances are crucial for the prevention of crime and blight in communities.

“Residents have the right to be protected from the harmful effects of sexually oriented businesses in their neighborhood,” said CCV President Phil Burress. “The presence of unregulated peep booths, porn shops, and strip joints presents a host of problems to the community, most from the increase in crime, in addition to causing urban decay. The courts have recognized this once again.”

When 75% of the members of the Ohio General Assembly voted in favor of enacting the reasonable regulations on the hours of operation and prohibiting physical contact between patrons and dancers that leads to prostitution, operators of sexually oriented businesses challenged the law in court.

The law also provides significant local control by allowing municipalities and townships to extend local regulations beyond the minimum state industry standards established in the law with the assistance of the Attorney General’s office. In the event of further litigation by a sexually oriented business, local communities have the defense and indemnification of the State.

In October 2007, a federal judge first rejected a request for a temporary restraining order, declaring the law constitutional, and allowing it to immediately go into effect. Attorneys for the State and a number of the 68 local city law directors and county prosecutors who were sued in the case argued in the preliminary injunction trial that the law was not only constitutional but necessary to fight the harmful secondary effects of sexually oriented businesses.

Federal Judge Solomon Oliver, Jr. ruled Friday that the State provided more than enough evidence, including legislative findings, police reports, private investigators, and former dancers, to show the negative effects of sexually oriented businesses on the community, stating:

“The court finds that the evidence provided by Defendants demonstrates that the Ohio General Assembly, after extensive hearings and consideration of Plaintiffs’ arguments, enacted [the Community Defense Act] to minimize the adverse effects of sexually oriented businesses in Ohio and benefit its citizens.”

Burress says all of the evidence presented to this judge echoed what studies and other courts have confirmed for decades. “This decision will help ensure that communities maintain their ability to protect families and their neighborhoods from these threats,” Burress said.

Citizens for Community Values is the pro-family public policy organization that spearheaded the petition drive which brought the voter-initiated petition to the Ohio Legislators. They have offices in Cincinnati and Columbus.