Seventh Circuit Stops Enforcement of Ordinance Restricting Adult Bookstore Operating Hours

On October 1, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the entry of a preliminary injunction and blocked the enforcement of an Indianapolis ordinance restricting the operating hours of adult bookstores.  Annex Books, Inc. v. City of Indianapolis, Indiana.  The ordinance required adult bookstores to close between midnight and 10:00 a.m., Monday through Saturday and all day on Sunday.  The City claimed that the closure would help reduce crime.  However, the bookstores provided arrest data showing that the number of arrests in Indianapolis either stayed the same or even rose after the ordinance became effective.  In defense of the ordinance, the City only presented a study showing that an ordinance dispersing adult bookstores, but not regulating their hours, reduced crime in Sioux City, Iowa.  The court recognized the distinction between that study and the Indianapolis ordinance, and found that the bookstores’ data implied that the restriction on hours did not measurably benefit a reduction in crime.  Thus, the Court held that the City did not meet constitutional scrutiny, i.e., that the law furthered an important government interest in a way that was substantially related to that interest.

Annex Books demonstrates that municipalities seeking to regulate the operation of adult-oriented businesses through time, place and manner restrictions must satisfy “intermediate scrutiny” in order for a restriction to be constitutional.  Indianapolis’ complete lack of proof on this point warranted the preliminary injunction being entered against enforcement of the ordinance.

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