Texas strip club pole tax struck down

The famous pole tax imposed at the beginning of the year on visitors to Texas strip clubs has been struck down as unconstitutional.

On March 28th, District Judge Scott Jenkins concluded that the tax, "while furthering laudable goals," violates the Constitution's First Amendment protection for freedom of expression, reported Associated Press.

The tax was introduced on January 1st and was expected to raise money for healthcare and anti-sexual assault programs.

But a consortium of strip club owners called the Texas Entertainment Association mounted a legal challenge against the tax.

Witnesses testifying on behalf of the strip clubs last year stated that the clubs could go out of business if they had to add the $5 tax to their cover charges. In their counter arguments, the State's lawyers said the tax was within the legislature's powers to regulate businesses that serve alcohol and offer nude performances.

After the verdict, Stewart Whitehead, who was acting on behalf of the Texas Entertainment Association, commented: "We hope this sends a message nationally that these establishments are protected by the First Amendment and you can't impose an unfair tax on them just because they are an easy political target."

The Texas Attorney General said he would "vigorously appeal" the decision. The Baltimore Sun has more details.

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