NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Louisiana officials want a federal appeals court to take another look at a law that would set a minimum age of 21 for exotic dancers who bare almost all in bars and nightclubs.
Last month, three judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling blocking enforcement of the measure. They agreed that the law – which makes 21 the minimum age for “entertainers whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view” at venues serving alcohol – was unconstitutionally vague.
Louisiana lawmakers passed the law in 2016. Supporters said the measure was meant to keep young women from falling prey to human trafficking at strip joints. The judges agreed that the state had a legitimate interest in doing so. But they also said the law is unclear as to how much of a young dancer’s breasts or buttocks must be covered.
In a filing late last week, Louisiana’s attorney general and the state’s commissioner of alcohol and tobacco control, who would enforce the law, asked that the full 16-member court rehear the case. They argue that the 5th Circuit panel improperly set a new judicial standard for what constitutes vagueness.
“Although no court has found the phrase ‘breast or buttocks are exposed’ to be ambiguous, the panel invalidated this decades-old phrase because underage entertainers want precise guidance on how to wear as little as legally permitted in alcohol-licensed strip clubs,” the appeal from the state’s lawyers said. But, they add, the law provides “fair notice” of what is prohibited.
It’s unclear when the full appeals court will decide whether to grant a rehearing. The court asked attorneys for the women who filed the suit to respond by next Monday.