Hot Poppin' Culture News From New York City

Giuliani Times Square Porn Crackdown Ruled Legal by NY Appeals Court

Giuliani Times Square Porn Crackdown Ruled Legal by NY Appeals Court 1

Rudy Giuliani’s crackdown on Times Square porn shops starting in the mid-1990s has been upheld by the state’s highest court. (Photo: Getty)

New York City laws enacted during former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s administration to crack down on porn shops, sex shows and topless bars have been upheld by the state’s highest court, marking the latest turn in a see-saw 20-year legal battle.

The New York Court of Appeals ruled, 5-0, the City has “met its burden” to administer zoning restrictions and limitations on sex businesses.

The regulations were enacted starting with Giuliani’s term in the mid-1990s.

They were supposed to prevent adult entertainment businesses from locating next to schools, churches and residential neighborhoods.

But it effectively shut down Manhattan’s adult video “bookstores,” peep shows and topless bars in and around Times Square.

The area today is a major tourist attraction. Major retailers and entertainment venues run by the likes of Disney and the Hard Rock Cafe have replaced the seedy shops that once dominated the area.

advertisement

The legal battle focused on a 1995 city resolution that defined “adult” commercial establishments.

Under the measure, establishments were considered “adult,” if a “substantial portion” of the establishment includes an adult books, topless bars, porn shows, or other adult commercial establishment, “or any combination thereof.”

The city further refined the definition in 1998 by enacting a “60/40 regulation.” A business was deemed “adult” if 40 percent or more of their area or stock involved sexual content, according to Courthouse News Service.

But in 2001, the Giuliani administration changed the focus in favor of a determination that an establishment was “adult” if its “predominant focus” was on “sexually explicit materials or activities,” regardless of the 60/40 rule.

In 2002, porn theater company For the People Theatres of N.Y., and JGJ Merchandise, an adult video company, DBA Vishans Video and as Mixed Emotions, sued the City, claiming its definitions violated the First Amendment.

The porn industry won a preliminary victory when a lower appeals court threw out the Giuliani interpretation.

But in the latest ruling, the state’s highest court overturned that decision and reinstated the law.

“It is evident as a matter of law that the City met its burden of showing that the adult establishments continued to have a predominant focus on sexually explicit materials and activities. It follows that the 2001 Amendments are facially constitutional,” wrote Judge Eugene Fahey in the unanimous decision.

The lower court had erred by “applying a rigidly mechanical approach to the determination of whether a predominant focus on sexually explicit entertainment remained,” the ruling stated.

Subscribe To TheImproper's Email Newsletters, Free!