San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil determined this week that California must “strip” away COVID restrictions and stop preventing nudie bars from “being allowed to provide live adult entertainment.” The decision comes as a result of two strip club owners filing suit against the state, insisting that their right to put girls on stage in various forms of undress is protected and enshrined by the First Amendment. Strangely enough, the judge’s decision will make it so strip clubs can reopen at a time when churches are still shuttered thanks to the lockdown.
Judge Wohfeil concluded that the matters at the heart of the case are indeed ones of “constitutionally protected speech,” and he determined that the harm that would befall the strip club owners would be greater if he denied their request to open than if he granted it.
“The judge’s decision is not final as that in a full hearing, which will occur at the end of the month, but it temporarily allows the strip clubs to reopen for indoor services, as other institutions close. In their legal complaint, strip-club owners argued they have complied with social distancing requirements. They also warned that another shutdown would mean financial ruin. The judge temporarily sided with them,” reported the Washington Free Beacon.
A lawyer for the Thomas More Society, a religion-liberty law firm that is representing several churches currently challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom’s restrictions, said that the judge’s decision could only bode well for their cases succeeding in court.
“If you’re going to accept that argument that dancing nude is protected speech that’s so significant that it overcomes the government’s interest in regulating its citizens with COVID-19 orders, then obviously the divine worship of God, which is expressly mentioned in the First Amendment, should be held to a higher standard,” said lawyer Paul Jonna.
In a separate statement to The Daily Wire, Jonna elaborated: “This is a constitutional travesty that must be immediately rectified. As one California judge aptly noted – you can’t treat a church like a hair salon because churches are entitled to greater protection under the Constitution. And you certainly can’t treat a church like a strip club. In California, churches are being treated worse than strip clubs. The constitutional right to worship God is infinitely more important than any right to entertainment.”
Well, if there’s any state in the country where we could imagine strip clubs getting exemptions that aren’t given to churches, it’s California. Still, we have to imagine that this decision is the first of many cracks to come in Newsom’s unconstitutional orders.