(CN) — For a strip club operating in New Jersey’s gambling capital, a state regulation banning it from advertising that its customers can bring their own booze cuts against the free-speech vision of the nation’s founders.
Stiletto, through its corporation GJJM Enterprises, filed its constitutional action against Atlantic City, its police department and police chief in federal court last week.
Located in the city known as “The World’s Most Famous Playground,” Stiletto’s website features a scantily clad woman looking out over a cityscape featuring multiple now-bankrupted casinos — including Caesars and Trump Plaza, whose facade has a photoshopped slogan, “Are You Gettin’ Any” — that once belonged to the president of the United States.
What Stiletto’s website does not have is an invitation for customers to BYOB, short for bring your own booze.
That’s because Stiletto seeks to overturn New Jersey’s statute governing restaurants and other businesses that do not have liquor licenses.
Although New Jersey allows patrons of these establishments to bring their own wine and beer — but not liquor — the state bans the businesses from advertising this fact, according to the lawsuit.
“In other words, restaurants and other public places serving liquid refreshments are prohibited from notifying customers that their establishments are ‘BYOB,’ even though it is fully lawful for patrons to bring and consume their own alcoholic beverages on the premises,” the eight-page complaint states.
Stiletto says that violations carry possible criminal penalties, plus administrative revocation of their BYOB privileges.
“As such, Stiletto has censored its expression as a direct result of the advertising ban’s chilling effect,” the complaint states.
Dressing itself up in the First Amendment, Stiletto sued for the right to slap “BYOB” on its website, signage, menus, print advertising and price lists.
“On its face, the statute bans truthful, non-misleading advertising about the lawful consumption of ‘BYOB’ beverages at restaurants and cafes and therefore acts as a prior restraint on constitutionally-protected commercial speech,” the lawsuit states.
Stiletto insists that its lawsuit is about informing consumers.
“Because it is both lawful and permissible to consume ‘BYOB’ beverages at Stiletto, this information would enable customers to make more informed decisions about their dining and entertainment options,” the lawsuit states.
Stiletto describes those “entertainment options” earlier in the complaint as “live erotic dance performances and other forms of live expressive entertainment geared towards an adult audience.”
The club filed two claims under the U.S. and New Jersey Constitutions.
Atlantic City did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Stiletto’s attorney Stephen Holtzman, from the firm Holtzman & McClain.