Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed court documents on Thursday defending the Dallas City Council's efforts to bar from the city's convention center an event billed as the "largest event in the USA dedicated to love & sex."
Paxton, who was charged with securities fraud on Monday, said it is “perfectly reasonable” for the city to prevent Exxxotica from hosting its pornography expo at the city-owned Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center if it “would not sufficiently advance the purposes for which the Convention Center was established.”
In February, the Dallas City Council voted to ban Exxxotica’s expo from the center – even though the company was allowed to hold the same event there in August. Two weeks after the vote, Exxxotica sued the city, claiming the ban was unconstitutional.
“The Dallas City Council acknowledged our First Amendment rights and then voted against them,” Exxxotica Director J. Handy said in a statement after the council’s vote. “We’re going to fight to not only regain our rights, but the rights of the citizens of Dallas.”
Paxton’s brief claims the decision does not violate free speech rights because the council has “exercised its discretion on a case-by-case basis” instead of passing a more restrictive ordinance with broader terms.
“It is vital that governmental entities have the ability to exclude sexually-oriented businesses from property that they own,” Paxton said in a statement. “The City of Dallas, through its democratically-elected officials, has rightfully decided that its convention center should not be home to an event where obscenity and criminal activity occurs. A federal court should not overturn that decision by elected officials.”
Exxxotica’s website lists dates for its upcoming expos in Chicago, Columbus and Edison, New Jersey. The Dallas event does not include a date, but instead reads, “Pending Approval.” The site says each expo lasts for three days and includes seminars and more than 100 exhibitors.
The brief, filed by Paxton and the Dallas Citizens Council, a local civics group, claims the nature of the event may discourage people from visiting the city.
“The purpose of the Convention Center is to serve as an economic engine and raise revenue,” the brief reads. “It is reasonable for the City to fear that the Convention Center’s (and therefore the City government’s) continued association with [Exxxotica] would dissuade some potential visitors from coming to the Convention Center or Dallas generally.”
The joint filing goes so far as to suggest alternative locations for the convention as “The City has demonstrated that sexually oriented businesses have ample opportunity to engage in adult speech in Dallas.” It advises Exxxotica to look into hosting its event at The Hilton Anatole or the Sheraton Dallas Hotel downtown, both of which the filing says “offer substantially more space than [Exxxotica] used at the Convention Center in 2015.”
Exxxotica insists it is well within its rights to lease the convention center space and the City Council resolution barring them is a First Amendment violation.
“We are fighting this fight so that hopefully you never have to,” Handy wrote in an open letter to members of the adult entertainment industry. “Together we can make sure that elected officials understand they do not have the right to force their own moral beliefs on those they were elected to represent. If this unconstitutional ban is upheld, we will show the courts not only how much this affects the public but members of the adult entertainment industry as well.”