Welcome to part two of this comic(al) strip (joint story). Were it a TV miniseries, it might be titled Lonesome Love or maybe Rich Man, Bored Man.
In our last episode, a new state law had just been passed by the guys in white hats, but the guys in black hats had filed suit in federal court, and that is where our story picks up — so choose your hat color and read on.
Papers filed in court by the strip clubs (in their patriotic mission to uphold the constitutional principles first established by Jefferson, Madison and Franklin, and more recently defended by “Miss Cherry Sundae”) included the following sworn statement made by one of the strip club owners: “Constitutionally protected, non-obscene and erotic dance performances which have serious artistic merit are presented at the club, for the entertainment of its members and their guests.”
Isn’t it curious to live in a society where such idiotic statements can be made in all seriousness, and not only accepted, but also made the basis of some grand constitutional principle? Patrick Henry probably wouldn’t have become such a beloved figure in American history had his most famous declaration been: “Give me strip clubs, or give me death!”
Nevertheless, the lawsuit proceeded, with the strip clubs asserting that a laundry list of constitutional rights had been violated by this new law. In July 2005, Judge Jane Boyle decided in favor of the state, and found the law to be constitutional. The strip clubs appealed their defeat to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (located in New Orleans), but instead of getting a ruling later in the fall, this case — and all of southern Louisiana — got blown into calendar limbo by Hurricane Katrina.
Along the way, in a reaffirming demonstration of neighborhood involvement, the Lake Highlands community (represented by the Lake Highlands Area Improvement Association) sought legal reinforcement in the person of sexually oriented business-expert Scott Bergthold from Tennessee, who has handled similar cases around the country and has appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court. LHAIA raised money to pay Bergthold to provide expert support to the Attorney General’s office, and file a “friend-of-the-court” brief with the Fifth Circuit on LHAIA’s behalf.
Finally, in March 2007, the Fifth Circuit issued its ruling. While the court agreed with the state on just about every argument, the court did conclude that one glitch necessitated the case be returned to Judge Boyle. The Fifth Circuit decided that, even though common sense clearly indicates that alcohol and erotic dancing create a “combustible” environment, the court record still needed to cite some evidence supporting that notion (i.e., we all know the sun rises in the east, but we still need a picture).
On May 22, 2008, Judge Boyle ruled, once again, in favor of the state and upheld the law. So the strip clubs headed back to the Fifth Circuit. Oral argument was set to occur in March 2009 when, out of nowhere, the strip clubs attacked on a different front.
A totally new lawsuit was filed in early 2009 in state district court in Dallas, involving another strip club whose alcohol permit was refused under the same law. And, on the eve of oral argument in the federal case, State District Judge Marty Lowy, elected in the 2006 Democrat sweep of the Dallas County courthouse, ruled that the Keffer-Carona law violated the “single-subject” rule of the Texas constitution and struck down the law as unconstitutional. The crowning irony — Judge Lowy is a Lake Highlands resident.
The Fifth Circuit has put its case on hold, pending resolution of the new state court case. The state court case has now been appealed to the Dallas Court of Appeals. James Ho, the Solicitor General for the state of Texas, has gotten involved, and this game of high-stakes (strip) poker has multiplied in significance and attention.
Bottom line: Strip clubs don’t like to lose; they have endless amounts of money and patience; and they generally prevail because neighborhoods and private citizens usually run out of money, attention and energy.
Lake Highlands, however, has continued to fight, and this community’s perseverance has caused the strip clubs to have to suit up in full shoulder pads and helmets.
And there’s nothing goofier than a guy in shoulder pads, a helmet — and a G-string. I predict a win for the Wildcats.