Reuters reports that a federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump has just struck down as unconstitutional a Tennessee law that places restrictions on drag shows.
The judge who issued the ruling is U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Parker was nominated by Trump in 2017 and his nomination was confirmed in early 2018.
The law at issue in the case places restrictions on drag shows, particularly drag shows that take place on public property or at locations where the show could be viewed by a minor. The law bans such shows at such locations.
Violators of the law could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to a year. And, repeat violators could face up to six years of imprisonment.
The law, which was signed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) back in early March, is first of its kind in America. Although, since its passage, several other Republican-led states have followed suit.
In March, a Memphis-based LGBTQ+ theater company called Friends of George’s legally challenged the Tennessee law on First Amendment grounds.
The group requested preliminary relief, and Parker granted it, temporarily blocking the law from going into effect.
The preliminary ruling hinted at how Parker might rule on the merits. And, that is exactly how he did rule on the merits.
According to NBC News, in a 70-page ruling, Parker found the Tennessee law to be “both unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad" and thus a violation of the speech protections of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
In his opinion, Parker writes:
Simply put, no majority of the Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit — but not obscene — speech receives less protection than political, artistic, or scientific speech.
As would be expected, supporters of the Tennessee law are criticizing Parker's opinion, while opponents are celebrating it.
Many news outlets are also highlighting the link between Parker and Trump as if to place some of the blame for the ruling on Trump.
It is worth highlighting the fact, however, that just because a judge was appointed by a Republican president does not mean that the judge must always reach an outcome that a Republican would find acceptable. Liberal judges work from preconceived outcomes, not conservative ones. The only relevant question is whether Parker ruled in line with the Constitution.
It remains to be seen whether Parker's ruling will be appealed.