Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Gammoh v. City of La Habra (9th Cir. - January 26, 2005)

They'll be no more lap dancing in La Habra, and many other jurisdictions will presumably follow suit now that the Ninth Circuit here upheld a ban on the practice against a multifaceted constitutional challenge.

My only real complaint about Judge Tallman's opinion is that he tries mightily to hide what is (in my mind)undeniably true: That the purported justifications for banning lap dancing are an utter crock, and that what's really going on here is that cities ban lap dancing because it's a profitable practice and without it, lots of strip joints will close. Judge Tallman says that there's no "evidence" of that fact -- even when a city employee says that he overheard someone admit it at a staff meeting -- but come on, it's clearly true. Oh, I'm just sure that the real reason the City banned lap dancing is because dancers may be passing drugs or getting money while they're grinding away. Yeah, that's the reason. That's why the City also banned salsa dancing. Oh, wait. The statute only applies to strip clubs. Damn.

Look, maybe you can constitutionally prohibit strip clubs, and maybe you can't. To pretend that the City is doing something it's not as a way of rationalizing the statute seems just wrong. I'd much prefer that the court call it like it is and let the chips fall where they may. Let's at least be honest about what we're doing, right?

Side note. I played critical -- but often overlooked -- role in this case. Among the evidence relied upon by the City to substantiate the deleterious consequences of strip clubs was the 1986 Meese Commission Report (the formal title of which is the Attorney General's Commission on Pornograhy, Final Report). I had the critical job -- as a 20-year old college student hired by the Meese Commission from a temporary service -- of (ta da!)physically typing the report. Now, admittedly, I didn't type all 1960 pages. But I did type a fair amount. I have vivid memories, for example, of typing the transcriptions of "Deep Throat" and "Debbie Does Dallas" that appear in the report. (For a sample of my stellar work in this regard go to the end of the text here. Be sure to pay particular attention to the striking absence of typos!)

Parenthetically, I also distinctly remember that virtually everyone walking around the office -- regardless of their role -- had a gun strapped to their side. I remember thinking: We're the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, for Christ's sake. Do we really need everyone to be packing heat? But FBI guys are FBI guys, I guess; even when they're just watching dirty movies and writing down what they see so I can type it up.

But let's not miss the important point. That I was critical in the fight against lap dancing. Feel free to reward me with 5's and 10's placed discreetly on my person.