Dallas Business Journal
Strip club wins latest round in alcohol spat
May 17, 2009, 11:00pm CDT Updated May 15, 2009, 7:00am CDT
Jeff Bounds Staff writer
A Dallas state judge has ruled unconstitutional a state law that prevents sexually oriented businesses located in dry parts of the state from getting “private club” permits, which allow them to serve alcohol.
The state Attorney General’s office, which is representing the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in the dispute with the Dallas strip club Silver City Cabaret, has appealed the March 13 decision by Judge Martin Lowy to the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas.
Lowry ruled that House Bill 7 from the 2003 Texas Legislature violated a provision of the state constitution essentially because its title did not give enough notice to sexually oriented businesses of an impending change to the Alcoholic Beverage Code affecting those businesses in dry areas of the state.
Article 21 of the House bill changed pre-existing law to say that sexually oriented businesses located in dry areas would not be allowed to renew private-club permits that allowed them to serve alcohol.
Roger Albright, a Dallas attorney representing Silver City, declined to comment. So did a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office.
Lowy’s decision follows a related case brought in 2004 by Silver City and a now-defunct Dallas strip club, Penthouse Key Club. Then, the two clubs had argued that the same provision of the Alcoholic Beverage Code was also a violation of the First Amendment. But in 2005, Dallas federal district judge Jane Boyle ruled in favor of the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, deciding that the law should survive scrutiny for First Amendment violations.
The two clubs appealed Boyle’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which in April sent the case back to her to reconsider in light of Lowy’s decision. The federal appellate panel did not take a position on the merits of Boyle’s original ruling. Boyle has since asked both sides to file written briefs “on the evolving Texas law in this area.”
Lowy’s ruling is unlikely to be upheld, either at the 5th District Court of Appeals or the Texas Supreme Court, says Andy Siegel, a partner at Shackelford Melton & McKinley in Dallas who is not affiliated with the matter.
“It’s an unusual claim to say six years later that the legislative process itself, held in public, doesn’t give you due notice and the opportunity to appear,” he says. Gener
About Texas Hospitality Services LLC:
Premier alcoholic beverage-permitting company, with 25 years of experience, securing TABC-permits and related permits and licenses for bars, sports bars, hotels, restaurants, SOBs, sports arenas, entertainment facilities and convenience and liquor stores throughout, D/FW, Texas and the Southwest U.S.