Topless dance club wins temporary relief from city’s anti-nudity law

Friday, June 12, 1998

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on Thursday that prevents officials in Brookings, S.D., from enforcing a recently enacted anti-nudity ordinance.


Peelers Gentleman's Club, which opened for business in April, challenged the law passed shortly after Peelers opened. In Pegasus, Inc. v. City of Brookings, the club owners allege city officials introduced the law in “direct response” to the opening of the topless club and intended it to “adversely affect Peelers' business.”


City officials placed the ordinance on the June 2 primary election ballot, and the measure passed by a vote of 1,518 to 895.


The club contends city officials violated both state and city laws by placing the issue on the ballot for a “special municipal election” instead of taking it up at the “next regular municipal or general election.” According to Peelers, the officials' actions in prematurely putting the issue to a vote makes the ordinance invalid.


In its motion for temporary relief, the club claimed that “the public interest dictates that [the city] should not be allowed to circumvent its own Charter and state law in enacting the ordinance which attempts to set contemporary community standards.”


The lawsuit, filed on June 4, also contends the law violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


Rick Entwistle, attorney for Peelers, said: “We are very pleased that the judge granted our motion for temporary relief. We have felt all along and continue to believe that this law is unconstitutionally overbroad and violates First Amendment free-expression rights.”


Entwistle said that the temporary restraining order will remain in effect until a trial, which is currently scheduled for Aug. 6-7.


A call placed to the city attorney was not returned.


— The Associated Press contributed to this report.