Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of Texas Drag Show Law
On September 24, 2023, blocked a new state law that imposed restrictions on drag shows, declaring that it’s too vague and discriminatory in nature.
Senate Bill 12 was passed earlier in 2023 and prohibits sexually themed performances in front of minors. It also imposes criminal penalties on performers and civil penalties for business owners who host the shows.
United States District Judge David Hittner of Houston ruled that the bill violates the performers’ First Amendment rights, namely the freedom of expression.
“Not all people will like or condone certain performances,” Hittner declared. “That alone does not strip First Amendment protection.”
By specifically prohibiting performers from using “accessories or prosthetics that exaggerate male or female sexual characteristics,” elected officials discriminated against individuals who choose to perform while “impersonating or exaggerating a sex other than the one a performer is assigned,” Hittner asserted.
In an X post that Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick published on September 26, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said the following about the ruling: “This story is not over.”
— Office of the Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (@LtGovTX) September 26, 2023
The plaintiffs included Texas business owners, LGBTQ organization, and a drag queen. They praised the ruling on September 24. The plaintiffs argued that the bill threatens performers’ economic livelihoods and will generate a chilling effect on “entire genres of performances that are not obscene or inappropriate,” such as high school Shakespearean plays or Dallas Cowboys cheerleading shows.
At this point in US history, we are in an existential political struggle that requires tough measures to be implemented against our enemies. Appeals to constitutional liberties are simply tone deaf. And they only guarantee our demise against an enemy that is hell-bent on destroying us.
Trying times call for bold measures.