Federal judge halts Texas drag ban

A federal district judge in Houston has ruled that Senate Bill (SB) 12, which would ban drag shows that have children under 18 years old in attendance, will be temporarily blocked from going into effect on September 1.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas filed a lawsuit on behalf of a group of plaintiffs alleging that SB 12 is “unconstitutional law that violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments and threatens the livelihood and free expression of many Texans, including drag performers.”

In the judge’s ruling he stated that “there is a substantial likelihood that S.B. 12 as drafted violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution under one or more of the legal theories… the Court considers the impending infringement on the Plaintiffs constitutional rights sufficient irreparable harm to warrant enjoining S.B. 12 while a final judgment is drafted.”

The judge stated that he issued the temporary restraining order to “preserve the status quo” while a final decision can be rendered.

The order blocks all defendants, including acting Attorney General Angela Colmenero and the Office of the Attorney General, from enforcing SB 12.

The judge's order will remain in effect for two weeks while a final judgment can be drafted and entered into the record.

The most recent legislative session saw the issue of “family-friendly” drag shows come to a head in SB 12, which would restrict drag shows with minors in attendance. The bill garnered national attention during its passage through the Texas Legislature.

After the ruling was announced, the ACLU of Texas took to social media to say that “drag performers and LGBTQIA+ allied businesses belong in our state — and Texas politicians have no right to censor our free expression.”

Now that SB 12 will be temporarily blocked, Texans can expect an appeal to challenge the federal district judge’s ruling.

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