It's taken two years, but the Oregon Supreme Court finally issued an opinion in the case of City of Nyssa vs. Miss Sally's Gentlemen's Club. Since first argued in front of the justices in 2003, that case has hovered over the state's strip clubs like a threatening storm cloud. If the verdict had gone against the strip club, the door would have swung wide open for towns and cities across the state to slap rules and regulations on strippers—something that hasn't been allowed for decades. For example, Portland's city council could've demanded that strippers wear pasties or stand at least four feet away from patrons.
But last Thursday, the Oregon Supreme Court decided five to one to uphold the state's uber-liberal free speech laws which—unlike restrictions in 48 states—pretty much allow strippers in Oregon to take it all off, rub it, move it, and shake it in any way they please.
The case stems from a lawsuit by Miss Sally's Gentlemen's Club, a popular strip joint in the eastern Oregon town of Nyssa. Concerned that businessmen there were jumping the Idaho border to frequent Miss Sally's Club (and their bare-all dancers), Nyssa's city council passed an ordinance demanding that patrons remain at least four feet away from dancers.
The managers at Miss Sally's Club cried foul and sued the City of Nyssa. Originally, the courts sided with the city, allowing restrictions on the strip club, and claiming the rules were in the "public's interest." Two years ago, the Court of Appeals even decided that "nude dancing is not expression protected" under the state constitution. That ruling sent shock waves through the stripping industry, which has traditionally been protected by the state's constitution and liberal free speech allowances.
For two years, nothing has been heard about the case as the Supreme Court justices mulled over the legal issues. On Thursday, and with little fanfare, the justices issued their decision that strippers will continue to be protected by the state constitution—effectively telling prudish city councils to mind their own business.