City of Erie v. Pap’s A.M. (2000) used the secondary effects doctrine to
uphold a public nudity ban, saying the ban did not violate the First
Adult Businesses and Nude Dancing
Adult entertainment establishments are subject to an array of zoning and licensing requirements. A typical regulation provides that adult businesses cannot be within 500 feet of a church, school, playground, or another adult-oriented business. Others dictate the distance between patrons and performers, limit the hours of operation, or prohibit totally nude dancing.
The Supreme Court first recognized the existence of a First Amendment freedom of expression right in adult entertainment in California v. LaRue in 1972.
A few years later in 1976, the Court upheld zoning of adult businesses in Detroit when it introduced the secondary effects doctrine in its decision in Young v. American Mini Theatres (1976). The city of Detroit had adopted an "skid row" ordinance preventing adult businesses from locating within 1,000 feet of any two existing adult businesses or within 500 feet of any residential area. The theater that challenged the law contended that the zoning ordinance was a content-based law that targeted businesses because officials did not like the expressive messages conveyed by the adult material displayed.
The Court reasoned that the law was not passed to silence offensive expression but to prevent the deterioration of neighborhoods.
City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books (2002) ruled that cities could rely on
studies showing the crime impact of adult businesses to zone them without
violating the First Amendment.
City of Renton v. Playtime Theaters (1986) said that zoning laws aimed at
undesirable secondary effects of sexually oriented businesses may not
violate the First Amendment.
New York State Liquor Authority v. Bellanca (1981) found that banning nude
dancing in places where alcohol is sold is not a violation of the First
Amendment’s right to free speech.
In 1976, the Supreme Court introduced the secondary effects doctrine in
upholding zoning of adult businesses in Detroit. In Young v. American Mini
Theaters, the Court found that the laws were aimed at limiting crime and
low property values, and were not aimed at limiting speech.
Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. (1991) ruled that states could regulate nude
dancing without violating the First Amendment, even though such
performances were expressive conduct.