Federal Judge Rules Tennessee Drag Ban is Unconstitutional
The judge said the law violates First Amendment protections
A federal judge struck down a first-of-its-kind Tennessee law that banned drag shows in public or where children could watch them, writing that the unconstitutional measure was passed "for the impermissible purpose of chilling constitutionally-protected speech."
In his ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker wrote that the law violates First Amendment freedom of speech protections and was "unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad." Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a statement that he expects to appeal the ruling "at the appropriate time."
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed the law in March, setting up Tennessee as the first state to explicitly ban drag performances in public spaces. The measure aimed to criminalize what it called “adult cabaret entertainment” by punishing first-time offenders with misdemeanors and repeat offenders with felony charges. Under the law, people convicted of multiple offenses could face prison sentences of up to six years. Parker blocked the law hours before it was set to take effect on April 1, delaying its start date so he could consider whether the ban was constitutional.
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