Texas judge: $5 tax on strip club patrons unconstitutional

AUSTIN — Texas' stripper club fee has been stripped from the law books. At least for now.

That’s the word Friday from Austin, where state District Judge Scott Jenkins ruled that the state's recent imposition of a $5-a-head tax on topless club patrons violates the U.S. Constitution. The state plans to appeal the ruling, officials said.

Jenkins found that the fee, passed by the Texas Legislature last year, had singled out a "business activity involving expression that, while politically unpopular, is nevertheless protected by the First Amendment." The $5 fee was designed to pay for sexual assault prevention and health insurance programs for the poor. Jenkins said those were "laudable goals," but he ruled that lawmakers had failed to directly tie the erotic activity they wanted to tax with the social ills they hoped to remedy.

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