California Set to Reopen Strip Clubs Before Churches

A Cal­i­for­nia judge ordered San Diego to reopen strip clubs even as local offi­cials crack down on churches.

San Diego Supe­ri­or Court judge Joel R. Wohlfeil ordered the state to end any actions that pre­vent the clubs from “being allowed to pro­vide live adult enter­tain­ment,” accord­ing to the deci­sion. The own­ers of two strip clubs argued that their busi­ness is legal­ly pro­tect­ed speech guar­an­teed by the First Amendment—the same argu­ment that church­es have been mak­ing about their own services.

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.

Reli­gious-lib­er­ty advo­cates said that the case could pave the way for lift­ing coro­n­avirus restric­tions against church­es. Paul Jon­na, spe­cial coun­sel for the Thomas More Soci­ety, which is rep­re­sent­ing church­es chal­leng­ing the restric­tions, expressed con­fi­dence that this deci­sion bodes well for the church­es. If strip clubs are enti­tled to con­sti­tu­tion­al pro­tec­tions, then church­es are as well, he told the Free Beacon.

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