The Oregon Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional yesterday a state law against conducting live sex shows and a local ordinance regulating...

Share story

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional yesterday a state law against conducting live sex shows and a local ordinance regulating conduct of nude dancers.

Both restrictions violate the Oregon Constitution’s guarantees of free speech and free expression, the court said in a pair of 5-1 decisions.

The free expression rulings continued the court’s modern pattern of broadly interpreting state constitutional rights as forbidding virtually all regulation of obscenity.

The state constitution, adopted in 1859 says, “No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write or print freely on any subject whatever.”

Justice Michael Gillette, who wrote the majority opinions in both cases, said it “appears to us to be beyond reasonable dispute that the protection extends to the kinds of expression that a majority of citizens in many communities would dislike — and even to physical acts, such as nude dancing or other explicit sexual conduct that have an expressive component.”

One ruling involved the owner of a Roseburg adult business featuring live sex performances in private rooms.