Saturday, April 1, 2023

Federal judge halts Tennessee 'drag ban' law

A federal judge in Tennessee temporarily halted the state’s new law that criminalizes some drag performances, hours before it was set to take effect.

Judge Thomas Parker cited constitutional protections of freedom of speech in issuing a temporary restraining order.

“If Tennessee wishes to exercise its police power in restricting speech it considers obscene, it must do so within the constraints and framework of the United States Constitution,” Parker wrote.

“The Court finds that, as it stands, the record here suggests that when the legislature passed this Statute, it missed the mark,” he wrote.

Tennessee’s anti-drag bill was signed into law on 2 March by Republican Governor Bill Lee. Performers who violate the new law could face misdemeanour charges, and repeat offenders could be charged with a felony, which could incur time behind bars. 

According to a new poll, most adults said they oppose laws restricting drag shows or performances as Republicans in several states push to block the shows from being seen by children. 

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