NEW ORLEANS — Exotic dancers are suing the state of Louisiana in the city of New Orleans, challenging a law that makes 21 the minimum age for working as a stripper. Now the state wants the case moved upstate to Baton Rouge.
Lawyers for Louisiana’s alcohol control commissioner — the defendant in the federal lawsuit — have asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to move it to the state capital. The state notes that the commissioner is based there and that two of the three dancers challenging the law work there. The motion also says key witnesses are in Baton Rouge.
Baton Rouge also tends to be a more conservative venue than New Orleans, where strip clubs thrive in the French Quarter.
Barbier has temporarily blocked enforcement of the law, which lawmakers applied to any “entertainers whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view.”
The women suing — ages 18, 19 and 20 — argue that it violates their right to free expression, illegally deprives them of income and discriminates against them based on age and gender.
Lawmakers called it a tool to fight human trafficking when the Legislature approved it this year. But the women argue that it would make women under 21 more likely to resort to prostitution if they can’t find work as dancers.
The lawsuit was filed Sept. 22 in the New Orleans-based U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of Louisiana. The suit seeks a transfer to the Baton Rouge-based Middle District.