Strip Club Owner Brings Epic Free Speech Fight To The US Supreme Court

FlashdanceIMDBA still from the movie ‘Flashdance.’

The owner of an Albany, N.Y. strip club called
Nite Moveshas hired one of America’s best free speech lawyers to help him convince the Supreme Court that taxes on lap dances should be illegal,
The Daily Gazette reports.

Nite Moves owner Stephen Dick says a tax on a freedom of expression like lap dancing violates the First Amendment. Dick petitioned the Supreme Court to hear his case after New York’s highest court ruled lap dancing shouldn’t get the same tax-exempt status as ballet or Broadway dancing.

To make his case, Dick hired Robert Corn-Revere, a nationally recognised free speech lawyer who defended CBS after the flap involving Janet Jackson’s exposed nipple during a Super Bowl half-time show.

Their Supreme Court petition argues that taxing lap dances and not other types of dance amounts to “content-based discrimination.” From the petition, courtesy of The Daily Gazette:

It is difficult to overstate the threat to free expression posed by the government’s misuse of power to levy taxes based on the content of speech or the identity of the speaker. The [Court of Appeals decision] disregards such concerns and embraces the notion that the government should be allowed to impose higher taxes, or selectively give tax breaks, based on its estimation of the relative ‘value’ of the speech.

When New York’s highest court handed down its decision back in October, three out of seven justices thought that lap dancing should not be taxed. One of those justices, Robert Smith, acknowledged that he found stripping “distasteful,” according to The New York Times.

“Perhaps for similar reasons, I do not read Hustler magazine; I would rather read The New Yorker. I would be appalled, however, if the state were to exact from Hustler a tax that The New Yorker did not have to pay, on the ground that what appears in Hustler is insufficiently ‘cultural and artistic,'” he wrote. “That sort of discrimination on the basis of content would surely be unconstitutional.”

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