SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 20, 1998 - A Federal Judge today threw out a case filed against the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenging the regulations governing sexually explicit displays in ABC licensed businesses.
ABC Director Jay Stroh said, "We are very gratified the lawsuit was completely dismissed and the ABC regulations remain enforce. We will continue to uphold the law as enacted by the people of California through their elected representatives."
The ACLU had sought an injunction on behalf of Lifestyles Organization (LSO), LTD., which claimed ABC violated its First Amendment right to free speech. The organization wanted to hold a sensual and erotic art exhibition at the Palm Springs Convention Center between July 30th and August 3, 1997. The Center is licensed by the Department of ABC.
Since the California Code of Regulations prohibits sexually explicit material to be displayed in ABC licensed premises, ABC notified the Convention Center its liquor license could be in jeopardy if illegal activity took place in the Center. The Center then expressed reluctance to allow LSO to hold its art exhibition, which prompted the court action against ABC.
The Federal Court initially issued a temporary restraining order barring enforcement of the regulations for a period of a few days pending further court review. The Federal Court ultimately dismissed the claim for money damages against senior ABC officials, finding that the officials acted properly in their duties.
Rule 143.4 of the California Code of Regulations stipulates that drawings portraying sexually explicit activities such as sexual intercourse, masturbation, sodomy, bestiality, oral copulation, flagellation or any sexual acts in publicly licensed premises are prohibited under State law. The Federal Court ruling leaves the ABC regulations intact and unchanged. The State Attorney General's Office defended the Department in the court action.