Constitutionality of Strip Club “Pole Tax”

26 03 2010

If you are a First Amendment fan, you might enjoy watching the oral arguments from a case heard by the Supreme Court of Texas. They are available via video feed here.

The issue: is the imposition of a tax on strip clubs (specifically a $5 tax for each person at a nude dancing club where alcohol is served), a violation of the First Amendment rights of the clubs?

There is also an article on the case here.

Why is this a First Amendment and issue for strip clubs? Because of the dancing.


Colbert on NPPA and Photography in Train Stations

3 02 2009

For years, I have been involved in fighting attempts to ban photography in public places like train stations. Yet photographers continue to be harassed and we continue to have to make a fuss.

Recently, a case caught the attention of the Colbert Report and the following video ran last night (Feb. 2). The absurdity of our point comes across clear as day. The shout out to NPPA (and the bloody lettering to go with it) made my day.

The good news is that NPPA has gotten Amtrak to agree to review and update its police guidelines in regards to photography. But that, of course is not as funny as what happened to set it all off.

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Law is Phun, pt. 3

11 06 2008

Part 3 in our Law is Phun series, courtesy of the footnote in Easter Seals.

United States ex rel. Mayo v. Satan & His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282, 283 (D. Pa. 1971)Bloody Hell Pond, Beppu, Japan

Okay, so I’m thinking, maybe there is a bar, named “Satan and his Staff,” that has run afoul. But no, the first thing I read in this case is that the plaintiff is claiming that “Satan has on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted threats, against the will of plaintiff, that Satan has placed deliberate obstacles in his path and has caused plaintiff’s downfall.”

Yes… I think I must read further. Apparently the plaintiff (Mr. Mayo, not the U.S.), claimed that Satan (yes, the fallen angel himself), had violated his civil rights as a citizen of the United States.

The court dealt with this by saying that even if the plaintiff could prove a civil rights violation, he had presented no evidence that the court had jurisdiction over the defendant. Of course, if Satan, like anyone, had ever filed a case in federal court, he would have submitted to the jurisdiction of hte United States.

The plot thickens, as jurisdiction may actually be available because, and I quote, “there is an unofficial account of a trial in New Hampshire where this defendant filed an action of mortgage foreclosure as plaintiff.”

But then the court decides that this case would still be improper, because frankly, the class of people who are likely to want to be joined in this case are too numerous, thus it would be more appropriate to be a class action suit.

The attempt to file this case was denied. Duh. What were they expecting, an injunction? An injunction is only granted if it is easy for the court to enforce.

I did a quick LexisNexis search and found that while a couple of “churches” following Satan have been sued, and a guy who had the nickname, “Satan” violated his probation and it was therefore revoked, this was the only case I could find where someone attempted to sue Satan. On the other hand, God has been sued multiple times, and a surprising number of people using the name “God” or “Allah” as their name or nickname have been subject to criminal prosecution or been a party to a lawsuit. I guess more people are mad at God than at Satan.

Come on folks, if you defeat God in court, do you really think you will win in the long run?

Law is Phun, pt. 2

13 05 2008

Part deaux in our Law is Phun series, another “delightful” case name, courtesy of a footnote from Easter Seals:

United States v. 11 1/4 Dozen Packages of Article Labeled in Part Mrs. Moffat’s Shoo Fly Powders for Drunkenness, 40 F. Supp. 208, 209 (D.N.Y. 1941)

– Well, I think if you tried to guess what this case might be about, you would probably guess right. Back in 1930’s, Mrs. Moffat (probably really a guy) marketed this product made of Antimony & Potassium Tartrate, claiming that it “cured” drunkenness. Before you run out to the grocery store looking for Potassium Tartrate (whatever THAT is- a distant cousin to the Carbolic Smokeball, perhaps?), you should know that the court granted an order condemning the product as mislabled, because:

1) it did not cure drunkenness; and

2) it was dangerous to health.

If you want to know more about the dangers of promising a cure that you can’t deliver, read Carhill v. Carbolic Smokeball Co., 1 Q.B. 256 (1892), a case where a manufacturer promised £100 to anyone who used the “health promoting” smokeball and got the flu. Unfortunately it was in the middle of a flu epidemic. The ad was determined to be an offer (a departure from the usual, more on that later), which was accepted when you got the flu. Uh Oh.

Please comment or ask questions. It will make this site more phun!