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Adams Newark Theatre Co. v. City of Newark

Decided: February 7, 1956.

ADAMS NEWARK THEATRE CO., A CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF.
v.
CITY OF NEWARK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS. I. HIRST ENTERPRISES, INC., A CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF, V. CITY OF NEWARK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



Colie, J.s.c.

Colie

The City of Newark on December 16, 1955, adopted an amendment to section 8.195, article XIV, chapter 8 of the Revised Ordinances , which provides as follows:

"(a) No show, performance, exhibition or motion picture, exhibited or conducted by reason of any permit or license issued, or to be issued, under this article shall be lewd, obscene or indecent or allowed to be acted or presented in a manner to constitute the same lewd, obscene or indecent, either upon or off the stage or screen or in the place of showing: or allow or permit the conduct of any performer, employee or the audience to commit actions that shall be lewd, obscene or indecent, and the following acts or performances are hereby specifically prohibited, to wit:

The removal by a female performer in the presence of the audience of her clothing, so as to make nude, or give the illusion of nudeness, of the lower abdomen, genital organs, buttocks or breasts;

The exposure by a female performer in the presence of the audience, or the giving of the illusion of nudeness in the presence of the audience, of the lower abdomen, genital organs, buttocks or breasts;

The exposure by a male performer in the presence of the audience of the genital organs or buttocks;

The use by a performer of profane, lewd, lascivious, indecent or disgusting language;

The performance of any dance, episode, or musical entertainment which depicts sexual subjects, acts or objects offensive to public morals and decency;

The performance of any dance, episode or musical entertainment, the purpose or effect of which is to direct the attention of the spectator to the breasts, buttocks or genital organs of the performer."

On the same date the city also adopted an amendment to section 20.7, chapter 20 of the Revised Ordinances , the precise language of which is not set forth for it is substantially as quoted from amended section 8.195 set forth above. The attack on the amended ordinances is that they are in violation of the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution and Article 1, paragraph 6 of the Constitution of this State, which provides:

"Every person may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right."

The rights guaranteed by the First Amendment and by our State Constitution are, beyond dispute, applicable to the commercial exhibition of plays and shows, and the type of exhibition which the plaintiffs herein stage are "shows" in every sense of the word, being so-called burlesque shows. It is beyond argument ...


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