NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — With the new drag show law currently in flux, the Tennessee Attorney General’s office promised they’d fight to change that.
“Its operative language is rooted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s long-established First Amendment precedent,” AG Jonathan Skrmetti said in part in a statement. “We are reviewing the order and expect to appeal at the appropriate time.”
Democrats celebrated the ruling, which came down late last week from a federal judge.
“I am very, very happy to see that a federal judge, not a federal judge from the Democratic side, just a federal judge in general, to have reason and understanding of what our constitutional rights are,” said Rep. Torrey Harris (D-Memphis).
Harris, the legislature’s only open LGBTQ+ member, said Democrats warned Republicans about this exact scenario when they were debating it during session.
“It’s the same reaction I had from the beginning,” Harris said. “We all knew that this was unconstitutional from the get-go.”
Republicans chastised the ruling, saying they’re glad Skrmetti is planning to appeal.
“I was certainly disappointed in the judge’s ruling,” Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) said. “This bill was very narrowly tailored to protect children from adult entertainment.”
The state of Tennessee is facing numerous lawsuits over several laws that passed this session. But Republicans say it’s worth the money.
“If it is a good policy then it is worth defending,” said Hensley, one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “This is good policy, I felt like it was. That’s why I voted for it, co-sponsored it.”
But even if the AG eventually loses his appeal, Harris said he expects similar legislation in the future.
“As long as we have leadership the way we do right now, I expect more and more laws to come,” he said. “Next year, I expect them to try to rewrite it a different way.”
Technically, the law only applies in Shelby County. But it’s unlikely a district attorney would prosecute a case against a law that a judge has deemed unconstitutional.