A zoning ordinance enacted by Renton, WA prohibited adult motion picture theaters from being located within 1,000 feet of any residence, church, park or school.
Resolution said that such businesses would have a severe impact on surrounding businesses and residences.
Respondents wanted to use two theaters in a proscribed zone to show adult films.
COA held the ordinance unconstitutional.
Is an ordinance prohibiting adult motion pictures from being located within 1000 feet of any residence, church, park or school unconstitutional?
SCOTUS held that an ordinance prohibiting adult motion pictures from being located within 1000 feet of any residence, church, park or school was constitutional.
Court analyzes this under Young v. American Mini Theaters.
Like the ordinance in American Mini Theaters, this residence does not ban adult theaters altogether, but just provides for where they can be located.
This is therefore a time, place, and manner regulation. (First step)
Court has long held that regulations enacted for the purpose of restraining speech on the basis of its content presumptively violate the first amendment. However, TPM regulations are acceptable so long as they are designed to serve a substantial gov't interest and do not unreasonably limit alternative avenues of communications.
Renton ordinance does not fit neatly into either the "content-based" nor "content-neutral" category.
It targets only adult theaters.
But, city claims it doesn't really care about the content so much as the secondary effects of the adult theaters on the community.
District Court's finding that the predominant interest was in secondary effects, not content, is enough to establish that the city's ordinance was unrelated to suppression of free expression.
Ordinance is designed to prevent crime, protect trade, maintain property values, and preserve quality of life, not to suppress unpopular views.
Therefore, it is completely consistent with our definition of "content-neutral" speech.
Court decided that this type of zoning ordinance should be analyzed under the standards applicable to content neutral TPM regulations.
Appropriate inquiry here, therefore, is whether the Renton ordinance is designed to serve a substantial gov't interest and allows for reasonable alternative avenues of communication.
It is clear that the ordinance meets this standard.
"A city's interest in attempting to preserve the quality of urban life is one that must be accorded high respect."
COA held that because it was enacted w/o the benefit of studies relating to the particular problems or needs of Renton, the justifications were conclusory and speculative.
This is an unnecessarily high burden of proof.
Renton relied heavily on the experiences of other cities such as Seattle. Renton was entitled to rely on these other experiences.
There is also no constitutional defect in the method chosen by Renton to further its substantial interests.
It is not the Court's function to determine the wisdom of the city's decision.
Renton ordinance is narrowly tailored specifically to target the category of theaters shown to produce unwanted secondary effects.
Respondents also argue that the Renton ordinance is "under-inclusive" in that it fails to regulate other kinds of adult businesses that are likely to produce similar secondary effects.
However, there is no evidence of any other adult businesses other than theaters.
In addition, that Renton chose first to address the potential problems created by one particular kind of adult business in no way suggests that the city has "singled out" adult theaters for discriminatory treatment.
Finally, turning to the issue of whether the ordinance allows for reasonable alternative avenues of communication:
Court notes that more than 5% of the entire area of Renton is still open to use as adult theater sites.
Respondents argue that practically none of this land is currently for sales or lease and that it is not commercially viable.
Court says respondents must fend for themselves in the real estate market.