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U.S. Supreme Court

City of Newport v. Iacobucci, 479 U.S. 92 (1986)

City of Newport, Kentucky v. Iacobucci, dba Talk of the Town

No. 86-139

Decided Nov. 17, 1986

479 U.S. 92


The City Commission of Newport, Ky., enacted an ordinance prohibiting nude or nearly nude dancing in local establishments licensed to sell chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 479 U. S. 93

liquor for consumption on the premises. Respondents, proprietors of Newport liquor establishments that offered nude or nearly nude entertainment, filed an action in Federal District Court contending that the ordinance deprived them of their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The court ruled that the ordinance was constitutional under the doctrine of New York State Liquor Authority v. Bellanca, 452 U. S. 714, which upheld a state law imposing an almost identical prohibition on nude dancing as being within the State's broad power under the Twenty-first Amendment to regulate the sale of liquor within its boundaries. The Court of Appeals reversed.

Held: The ordinance is constitutional. This case is controlled by Bellanca. The States' broad regulatory authority conferred by the Twenty-first Amendment in the context of liquor licensing includes the power to ban nude dancing and outweighs any First Amendment interest in nude dancing. The Court of Appeals misperceived this broad base for the Bellanca decision by concluding that because, under the Kentucky Constitution, a city cannot ban the sale of alcohol without approval by local election, it similarly cannot regulate nude dancing in bars. Generally, States may delegate their power under the Twenty-first Amendment as they see fit, and the fact that Kentucky has delegated one portion of its power to the electorate -- the power to decide if liquor may be served in local establishments -- does not differentiate this case from Bellanca.

Certiorari granted; 786 F.2d 1364, reversed and remanded.

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