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Supremes uphold strip club tax

In a ruling that reverses the 3rd Court of Appeals, the State Supreme Court has unanimously held that the so-called “pole tax” is constitutional.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that a $5-per-customer fee on strip clubs that serve alcohol doesn’t violate free speech rights.

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“We think a $5 fee poses no greater burden on nude dancing,” Justice Nathan Hecht wrote for the court. “The fee in this case is clearly directed, not at expression in nude dancing, but at the secondary effects of nude dancing when alcohol is being consumed.”

He further added that businesses could avoid the fee altogether by simply not allowing consumption of alcohol.

Here’s a copy of the ruling, via the Trib, which had previously noted that many clubs had not been paying the tax along the way as they had been required to do pending final disposition of the lawsuit; they’ll be getting a collection notice from the Comptroller soon. Just to give you an idea of how quickly our judicial system works, remember that the original legislation passed in the 2007 legislative session. In March of 2008 a Travis County district court judge ruled the tax unconstitutional. That ruling was appealed to the 3rd Court, which heard arguments in February of 2009, and upheld the lower court in June, a mere four months later. That ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court within a week, and was heard by the Supremes in March of 2010. Nearly a year and a half later, we finally have their ruling. You just can’t rush these things. Hair Balls has more.

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