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Judge upholds Dallas ordinance regulating hours for sexually-oriented businesses; enforcement won't happen for weeks

The Dallas judge heard from adult court operators Friday who said their 1st and 14th amendment rights were being violated through this ordinance.

DALLAS — A North Texas judge denied a motion Friday afternoon to issue a temporary restraining order on the recently-passed ordinance restricting business hours for certain Dallas sexually-oriented businesses.

However, the judge said she decided they will have a preliminary injunction hearing by Feb. 10. The city's enforcement of this new ordinance can't happen before that process is complete. 

In the next few weeks, the judge said she wants more details about the Dallas Police Department data provided earlier this week.

"The City Attorney’s Office will continue to vigorously defend the ordinance amendment and looks forward to presenting evidence and argument at the next hearing," Dallas City Hall officials said in a statement released in the wake of United States District Judge Barbara Lynn's decision. 

Friday's hearing lasted about 90 minutes. The judge also discussed with those on the call that it is going to take the city and the Dallas Police Department a few weeks to inform the businesses impacted.

On Wednesday, all 14 Dallas councilmembers and Mayor Eric Johnson voted 15-0 to pass the new proposal, which would close strip clubs and other Dallas businesses from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.

The civil action is asking for a temporary restraining order to be placed on this ordinance. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs mentioned that their 1st and 14th Amendment rights are being violated.

"For many years, members of [Association of Club Executives of Dallas] and the individual plaintiffs have operated past 2:00 a.m., disseminating constitutionally protected sexual oriented expression during the late night hours," the plaintiffs said in the lawsuit.

This lawsuit includes multiple plaintiffs led by the Association of Club Executives of Dallas, which is a trade association made up of members from adult bookstores, adult arcades and adult cabarets in Dallas.

Other Dallas businesses that are plaintiffs in this civil action include:

  • PT's Men's Club
  • Silver City
  • Men's Club of Dallas
  • Buck's Wild
  • New Fine Arts Shiloh

The court heard the motion Friday afternoon through a virtual call. Judge Barbara Lynn, of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, oversaw the hearing.

RELATED: 'It's a smart response' | Dallas City Council unanimously votes to limit hours at sexually-oriented businesses

According to representatives with Mayor Johnson's office, the new rules were set to go into effect upon the publication of the ordinance, which was expected to happen Monday, Jan. 31.

"I think this is a very measured and proactive response to the violent crime that is still too high in our city," Johnson said minutes before the vote.

The city's new ordinance also cites the state's new law, SB 315, which prohibits a sexually-oriented business from employing or contracting a person who is under 21 years old.  

Before it passed unanimously, Mayor Eric Johnson said the vote would show how committed the council is to reducing violent crime. He said this isn't a vote about being "morally puritan" or shutting down the businesses, but the city is trying to prioritize public safety. 

"We're talking about businesses that have been operating for a long time between those hours, contributing to a considerable amount of violence in the city," Johnson told WFAA on Tuesday. 

Protesters showed up outside Dallas City Hall Wednesday to speak out against the ordinance. One person held up a sign that said, "This is a curfew. Adults have the right to choose how to live their lives."

Another sign read, "Single moms need to work. We have families too." Yet another said, "Crime knows no time."