Trump-appointed judge rejects Tennessee’s anti-drag law as too broad, too vague - Associated Press

Tennessee’s first-in-the-nation law designed to place strict limits on drag shows is unconstitutional, a federal judge says.

The law is both “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad” and encouraged “discriminatory enforcement,” according to the ruling late Friday by U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump.

“There is no question that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. But there is a difference between material that is ‘obscene’ in the vernacular, and material that is ‘obscene’ under the law,” Parker said.

“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,” he said.

Parker used the example of a female performer wearing an Elvis Presley costume and mimicking the iconic musician who could be at risk of punishment under the drag law because they would be considered a “male impersonator.”

Friends of George’s, a Memphis-based LGBTQ+ theater company, filed a complaint in March, saying the law would negatively impact them because they produce “drag-centric performances, comedy sketches, and plays” with no age restrictions.

Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, a Republican who was one of the law’s main sponsors, said he was disappointed with the ruling.

Parker also cited how the law’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Chris Todd, had previously helped lead an effort to block a drag show in his district before introducing the drag ban proposal. Todd later confirmed that he hadn’t seen the performance, but nevertheless pursued legal action to stop the show and the event was held indoors with an age restriction.

The drag law marks the second major proposal targeting LGBTQ+ people passed by Tennessee lawmakers this year. Lee signed into law GOP-backed legislation banning most gender-affirming care, which is being challenged in court.

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Associated Press

Locations: Tennessee 

Organizations: Friends of George’s Republican Party (GOP) 

People: Thomas Parker Donald Trump Jack Johnson Chris Todd 

Tags: LGBTQ+ Transgender Legislation Drag Performance Free Speech 

Type: Headlines