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.