Judge Rules Texas Law Shielding Minors From ‘Sexually Oriented’ Performances Violates First Amendment
AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 20: The Texas State Capitol is seen on the first day of the 87th Legislature's third special session on September 20, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Following a second special session that saw the passage of controversial voting and abortion laws, Texas lawmakers have convened at the Capitol for a third special session to address more of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's conservative priorities which include redistricting, the distribution of federal COVID-19 relief funds, vaccine mandates and restrictions on how transgender student athletes can compete in sports.
Photo by Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images.

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the implementation of a Texas law banning “sexually oriented” performances in front of minors. 

Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas said that the law violated the First Amendment and chilled free speech in the state. The ruling blocks a law signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in June. The law has been called a “drag ban” but applies to any sexually oriented performance. 

“Not all people will like or condone certain performances,” Hittner wrote. “This is no different than a person’s opinion on certain comedy or genres of music, but that alone does not strip First Amendment protection. However, in addition to the pure entertainment value there are often political, social, and cultural messages involved in drag performances which strengthen the Plaintiff’s position.”

Hittner, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan, said that the law “impermissibly infringes on the First Amendment and chills free speech.”

He said it would be reasonable to assume that other activities, like cheerleading, dancing, or live theater, could become a crime if the law takes effect. 

According to the law, “A person who controls the premises of a commercial enterprise may not allow a sexually oriented performance to be presented on the premises in the presence of an individual younger than 18 years of age.” It would have allowed violators to be fined up to $10,000.

“I am relieved and grateful for the court’s ruling,” said Brigitte Bandit, a drag performer who sued to stop the law from taking effect. “My livelihood and community has seen enough hatred and harm from our elected officials. This decision is a much needed reminder that queer Texans belong and we deserve to be heard by our lawmakers.”


The law, introduced by state Senator Bryan Hughes (R), also banned cities or counties from authorizing a sexually oriented performance on public property. 

“Surely we can agree that children should be protected from sexually explicit performances. That’s what Senate Bill 12 is about,” Hughes said. “This is a common sense and completely constitutional law, and we look forward to defending it all the way to the Supreme Court if that’s what it takes.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Judge Rules Texas Law Shielding Minors From ‘Sexually Oriented’ Performances Violates First Amendment