Some Florida strip club owners are pressing to lower the minimum age for dancers from 21 to 18, calling the current age requirement unconstitutional.
A lawyer representing 13 clubs and four dancers in Jacksonville argued before a federal judge that dancing is a form of expression protected under the First Amendment.
“This is just a ban on speech,” said attorney Gary Edinger.
City law currently bans dancers under the age of 21 and was passed in an effort to curb sex trafficking. The procedure also requires the dancer to have city-issued IDs.
City attorneys said young people are more vulnerable to coercion that is often part of trafficking and argued that age 21 is a safer age.
During the hearing, US District Court Judge Timothy Corrigan repeatedly asked about the trade-off between personal rights and public interests.
“When you start telling the adults what they can and cannot do, you have to bring the goods. These are the people who can vote and can join the service,” the judge said.
The Florida Times-Union reported that the parties are also arguing over whether issuing ID cards to the dancers as a kind of work permit could be justified as a legal form of prior restraint on the dancers who would have the right to perform.