On Wednesday, January 26, the Dallas City Council voted unanimously to force all adult businesses in the city — including strip clubs — to close at 2 am. Two hours after that decision, the Texas ACE (Association of Club Executives) statewide chapter filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Dallas.

The new rules are a first for the city and went into effect immediately after the council approval, but likely can’t be enforced until the ordinance is published this Saturday (1/29).

The suit seeks to temporarily halt the city’s enforcement of these restrictions, which force clubs to shut down between 2 am and 6 am. The lawsuit argues that since the rules only target adult businesses, it infringes on constitutionally protected freedom of expression. The suit also argues that the restrictions would heavily impact the businesses’ revenues, cause workers to lose their jobs and other financial impacts. According to the Dallas Morning News, several club workers reportedly told council members before the vote Wednesday that most of their business comes after 2 a.m.

Many of Dallas’ 18 topless or fully nude strip clubs with active licenses close sometime after 2 a.m. either every night or at least on Fridays and Saturdays. The other nine sexually oriented businesses are a combination of adult novelty stores, theaters, video and book stores, and arcades. All except two of them are open 24 hours.

The businesses named in the suit are PT’s Men’s Club, Silver City Cabaret, Bucks Wild, The Men’s Club of Dallas and New Fine Arts branch in Far East Dallas. Roger Albright and T. Craig Sheils are listed among the lead attorneys representing the businesses, voiced opposition to the council before their vote on the restrictions.

The proposal has been spearheaded by the police department, whose officials say that crimes and emergency calls occurring after 2 a.m. at some strip clubs tie up police and fire resources and hamper the city’s goal of reducing violent offenses.

With the new rule approved, sexually oriented businesses that violate the ordinance could have their operating licenses suspended for up to 30 days. Those that keep operating while suspended risk being sued by the city or having their licenses revoked. People who violate the new rules could also receive a fine up to $4,000 and up to a year of jail time.

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