High Court Denies Review of Dallas Ordinance

Supreme Court building | Image by Garen Meguerian/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a lower court’s ruling that allows the City of Dallas to enforce an ordinance requiring sexually oriented businesses to close by a certain time.

Association of Club Executives of Dallas, et al. v. City of Dallas, Texas, was among dozens of cases on Monday that were denied certiorari — the legal term that means “that the higher court does not find the legal issues raised in the petition to be important enough to consider at that time,” per Ballotpedia. As such, the lower court’s decision remains without approval or disapproval from the High Court.

The denial came more than two years after Dallas City Council members adopted an amended ordinance mandating that sexually oriented businesses close between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

“The justification advanced for the Ordinance was that it would reduce crime and preserve police resources,” the petition for a writ of certiorari shows. “That same day, the Petitioners filed a verified complaint and motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction challenging the Ordinance under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, invoking the district court’s federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1331, and bringing suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983.”

Ultimately, the district court denied the motion for a restraining order and later issued a preliminary injunction on May 24, 2022.

According to the petition, “The City appealed, and the Fifth Circuit vacated its decision on October 12, 2023. On November 7, 2023, it denied the Petitioners’ petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc.”

The Association of Club Executives, whose members include Bucks Wild, The Men’s Club of Dallas, New Fine Arts Shiloh, PT’s Men’s Club, and Silver City, argued that the City’s curfew ordinance “threatens the livelihoods of the more than 1,000 employees and independent contractor performers who work at Dallas’ sexually oriented businesses during the late night hours, and the continued viability of the businesses themselves.”

They also questioned using crime data to justify adopting the amended ordinance.

“By including locations without an operating adult business, Dallas’s crime data were suspect ab initio. … What is more, violent crime actually increased, from 7 incidents to 13 incidents, within 500 feet of those seven vacant locations between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., compared to the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., undermining the rationale for the Ordinance that shutting the adult businesses during those hours would reduce crime,” the petitioners argued.

Lt. Stephen Bishopp is the “commander in charge of the data collection process for crime statistics and information for the City of Dallas,” per the petition.

“[Bishopp] collected data of crime incidents, arrests, and calls for service between the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. within a 500 foot radius of 35 locations where there were sexually oriented business licenses in place over the three year period 2019-2021,” stated the petition.

Those 35 locations include nine adult bookstores or arcades, 10 alcohol-licensed topless-adult cabarets, nine BYOB nude-adult cabarets, and seven venues that were not operating as sexually oriented businesses.

“[Bishopp] then put that information into various slides and bar graphs that were presented to Council comparing crime data between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., and the hours of 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. to support the Ordinance requiring closure during those latter hour,” the petitioners claimed.

According to the petition, Bishopp “acknowledged” that the theory of the ordinance was crafted to “reduce calls for service and conserve police resources by reducing crime.”

“Under that rationale, he agreed that he would expect the alcohol licensed cabarets, which were closed between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., five days a week, to have fewer Priority 1 calls for service than the BYOB cabarets, which were open after 2:00 a.m. most days of the week, and the adult bookstores, which were open twenty-four hours. But the data showed that the topless clubs, which were closed between 2 am and 6 am five days a week, had more Priority 1 calls for service than the BYOB cabarets and the adult bookstores during those hours.”

As it currently stands, violators of the ordinance could lose their sexually oriented business license and face criminal charges, including a penalty of up to a year in jail or a fine up to $4,000, per The Dallas Morning News.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the Dallas Police Department attributed a surge in prostitution-related offenses in Northwest Dallas last year to the concentration of sexually oriented businesses. Of the city’s 27 licensed sexually oriented businesses documented in January 2022, 80% were in this area, which is part of District 6, represented by City Council Member Omar Narvaez.

DPD has been struggling to reduce crime amid a severe staffing shortage. It currently only has around 3,000 officers in the field, while the City previously recommended a force of 4,000 to adequately ensure public safety.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article