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Judge Bernice Donald Confirmed, Celebrates with Stripper Ruling

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

What would you if you had just been confirmed for a seat on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals? Open a bottle of champagne? Take a long lunch?

If you were U.S. District Judge Bernice Donald, you would head back to the bench to uphold a Shelby County ordinance banning alcohol in sex-related businesses.

All in a day's work, right?

Shelby County, where Memphis is located, approved an ordinance prohibiting alcohol in strip clubs, and requiring background checks and licenses for sex-related business employees. The ordinance also prohibits employees at the businesses from touching customers or one another, requires performers to shield their genitals with opaque coverings, and mandates that women have to cover their nipples.

The rules were never implemented due to the lawsuit, reports The Commercial Appeal.

Judge Donald initially upheld the restrictions in 2009, finding that the ordinance was aimed at limiting the tangential effects of sex-related business, like crime and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases, rather than free expression. The case came back to Donald's courtroom this year to determine if the ordinance should apply to "bikini bars" and clubs where dancers and employees wear minimal clothing.

Judge Donald sided with Shelby County again this week, holding that the ordinance applies to establishments where employees are clad in slightly more than the minimum. In deciding the case, Donald disregarded the testimony of an expert witness for the business owners who claimed that adult businesses are unrelated to crime rate increases.

Judge Donald won't have the final word in the case, though. Shelby County's sex-related business proprietors say they will appeal the district court ruling to Donald's new home, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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