Unconstitutional: Federal Judge Strikes Down Tennessee’s Anti-Drag Laws

Federal judge rules Tennessee’s anti-drag show law is ‘unconstitutional’

A federal judge appointed by former US President Donald Trump has ruled that a Tennessee law aimed at restricting drag shows is unconstitutional. The law, which was passed in 2020, prohibited performances featuring nudity, sexual content and the simulation of sexual activity.

However, US District Judge Aleta Trauger said in a 49-page ruling that the law was too broad and vague, and violated the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The judge also noted that the law’s definition of nudity was so broad that it could potentially apply to any performer who showed “too much skin.”

Trauger’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of drag performers and advocates for LGBTQ rights who argued that the law unfairly targeted their performances and violated their constitutional rights.

The ruling was welcomed by Andrea Martinez, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, who said in a statement: “This decision affirms that the freedom to express ourselves is a fundamental right, and that those rights must be protected.”

The ruling is the latest in a series of legal challenges to laws aimed at restricting LGBTQ rights in Tennessee. In recent years, the state has also faced challenges to laws that restrict access to transgender healthcare and impose harsh penalties on same-sex couples who try to adopt children.

The state’s attorney general, Herbert Slatery, said in a statement that he was “disappointed” by the ruling and was considering an appeal. However, he also acknowledged that the decision “furthers a national conversation about the balance between free speech and the regulation of public performances.”