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Attorney General Bailey Joins 17 States Protecting Children from Lewd and Obscene Behavior

Home 9 Press Release 9 Attorney General Bailey Joins 17 States Protecting Children from Lewd and Obscene Behavior

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey joined an 18-state coalition in filing an amicus brief supporting Tennessee’s Adult Entertainment Act (AEA), which protects minors from lewd and obscene behavior. A district court incorrectly ruled against the law, and the attorneys general are leading the effort to support the appeal of that initial ruling.

Tennessee’s AEA requires sexual or explicit forms of adult entertainment to occur in adult-only zones and prohibits such entertainment from occurring on public property.

“States have a compelling interest to ensure that their children aren’t subject to sexually explicit performances,” said Attorney General Bailey. “I’m proud to support the rights of other states to protect their children.”

Tennessee’s statute prohibits performances that include “nudity, sexual excitement, sexual conduct, excess violence or sadomasochistic abuse” that “appeal[s] predominantly to prurient, shameful or morbid interests of minors,” in a “patently offensive” way that “lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors.” This law imposes the same restrictions on drag performers as any other sexually explicit performances, based on longstanding laws with adult establishments. Simply, a drag entertainer can’t perform sexually explicit performances at a library, or anywhere else where children may be present.

In the amicus brief, the attorneys general state, “… The district court disregarded decades of precedent that respects the role of legislatures—and state legislatures in particular—in shaping public policy. The Tennessee legislature did not act with an impermissible purpose, and the Court’s holding to the contrary undermines basic principles of separation of powers. The judgment of the district court should be reversed.”

The attorneys general assert that the Tennessee legislature “merely sought to advance its longstanding interest in ‘safeguarding the physical and psychological well-being’ of minor children.”

Attorney General Bailey joined Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia in filing the brief.

The brief can be read here: