Court declines to reconsider ruling on brothel ads

A federal appeals court has declined to reconsider its March ruling on brothel advertising.

In March, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the 2007 ruling of U.S. District Judge James Mahan, who concluded that Nevada laws limiting brothel advertising violate the First Amendment. The laws prohibit brothels from advertising in counties, such as Clark and Washoe, where prostitution is illegal.

Shortly after the appeals court issued its decision, American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada lawyers asked the court to reconsider. On Thursday, the court unanimously denied the request.

"I am glad to see that, once again, common sense has prevailed," Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said in a prepared statement. "This state has had restrictions on brothel advertising for 40 years. Nevada should have the right to have reasonable limitations on this type of activity."

In a petition filed with the appeals court in San Francisco, ACLU lawyers argued that the case "involves a question of exceptional importance" and asked for a rehearing "en banc." If granted, an 11-member panel of the court would have reviewed the case; the original opinion was issued by a three-judge panel.

"We are disappointed that the 9th Circuit chose not to follow established Supreme Court precedent," Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the ACLU of Nevada, said Thursday.

In their petition, ACLU lawyers argued that the decision in the brothel advertising case conflicts with the Supreme Court's 1996 decision in 44 Liquormart Inc. v. Rhode Island. In that case, the high court ruled that a law banning the advertisement of alcohol at places where it is not sold violated the First Amendment.

At the time the petition for rehearing was filed in the brothel advertising case, Lichtenstein said the organization would attempt to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court if the request was denied. On Thursday, the lawyer said he could not discuss the ACLU's next step until he had a chance to speak with all his clients about the latest ruling.

His clients include brothel owner Bobbi Davis, the weekly Las Vegas CityLife newspaper and the weekly High Desert Advocate newspaper in West Wendover. CityLife is owned by Stephens Media, owner of the Review-Journal.


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