Attorneys for the Doctor John's Lingerie Boutique told judges of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday that the sex shop does not cause blight and crime, so it can't be regulated like one that would.
But attorneys for the city of Roy said Doctor John's is enough like businesses that have increased crime that the municipality can require special sexually oriented business licensing for the store, which sells lingerie, adult videos, novelties and sex toys.
The pink and purple shop is located on Roy's main drag, near a gas station, video-rental store and liquor store. Costumes and lingerie are displayed in the only windows, which face the street.
The judges will likely issue a decision on the case within a few months, but even when they do, the licensing question will remain unsettled, said Robert Keller, a private attorney representing the city. A parallel case is working its way through the Utah state courts, but it has been put on hold pending the resolution of the federal case.
Wednesday's arguments represent the second time this case has been before the federal appeals court. Last time, in 2006, the judges found in the city's favor on all but one issue. They remanded the case to the district court, which also ruled against the sex boutique.
"The city doesn't object to their selling any of these materials; it just wants to regulate and license the sale," Keller said. "We hope that (the court) will uphold the ordinance."
Keller said the city was concerned about the availability of pornography to minors, so it wants to ensure that Doctor John's isn't being run by criminals.
If required to get the license, Doctor John's would have to pay extra money, license every employee at a cost of $100 each and be closed between 2 and 10 a.m. daily.
The business currently allows only adults inside and is open 24 hours a day. John Coil, a managing partner in the Doctor John's Corporation, said before Wednesday's arguments the Roy business will stay open even if the licensing is ultimately required. The Texas businessman feels the case is really about the sexual liberation of women from their patriarchal oppression by religious men."Utah is on the front lines of the battle because of the fundamentalist nature of some religions in Utah," he said prior to the Wednesday arguments. "It does present a battle within our culture, a battle within our society. ... It's a battle that I'm still fighting."