(CN) – Indianapolis failed to offer “an iota of evidence” supporting stricter regulations on adult book and video stores, the 7th Circuit ruled. The court struck down the city’s 2003 amendments that broadened the definition of an “adult entertainment business.”
These amendments expanded the definition of an adult business to include any retailer that devotes at least 25 percent of its space or inventory to adult books, magazines, films and sex toys. The new definition also covered retailers who earned at least 25 percent of their sales from adult items.
Before 2003, the threshold was 50 percent.
Adult entertainment businesses need a license, must be well lit and sanitary, and must be closed on Sundays and after midnight on all other nights.
Four firms that were suddenly classified as adult entertainment businesses claimed the revised ordinance violated their constitutional rights.
Indianapolis justified its restrictions on the ground that they can reduce prostitution, stealing, public masturbation and other crimes associated with adult businesses.
The city cited Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s concurring opinion in Los Angeles v. Alameda Books, in which he supported the idea of dispersing adult establishments in order to reduce the so-called “secondary effects,” or negative impacts, of adult businesses.
The federal appeals court in Chicago rejected this line of reasoning.
The studies on which the city and Justice Kennedy relied, Chief Judge Easterbrook pointed out, involved ordinances dispersing adult businesses, not the kind of ordinances Indianapolis imposed.
And those studies applied to businesses that offer live sex shows, private viewing booths or both, Easterbrook noted. But three of the four plaintiffs in this case do not offer live entertainment or private viewing. Instead, they’re simply book or video outlets, “brought under the regulatory umbrella” by the 25 percent trigger, Easterbrook said.
“Until the 2003 amendments, these stores were treated the same as Barnes & Noble or Blockbuster Video,” Easterbrook wrote. “If they were associated with significant crime or disorderly conduct, it should be easy for Indianapolis to show it. But the city has not offered an iota of evidence to that effect.”