Town with 39 people can ban all businesses, including “adult” ones

August 6, 2012

The latest installment in Minnesota governmental attempts to ban “adult” businesses brings us to the tiny hamlet of Florence, Minnesota, population 39, which has successfully banned all businesses — including adult ones — from its two-tenths of a square mile.

At issue was an establishment called the “Juice Bar,” which shut down after the owner was threatened with criminal prosecution.  The owner sued and claimed the the city could not ban all businesses consistent with the First Amendment.  The theory was that banning businsses left no room for constitutionally protected “adult” communication.

The city contended that the effort to maintain “entirely residential” property was valid because of its interest in staying small and not having much infrastructure.  Last week, federal judge Donovan Frank agreed, stating:

The City has the power to enact its own ordinances and its decision to be zoned entirely residential is unrelated to the suppression of free expression; the incidental restriction on any First Amendment freedoms resulting from the zoning ordinances is no greater than necessary to the furtherance of those interests.

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