Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, City of Renton (Petitioner), passed a zoning code restricting the location of adult movie stores within the city.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A regulation that is content-based on its face may be considered content neutral if it is motivated by a permissible content-neutral purpose.
The inquiry for First Amendment purposes is not concerned with economic impact; rather, it looks only to the effect of this ordinance upon freedom of expression.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Is this zoning ordinance a violation of First Amendment freedom of speech rights of the Respondent, Playtime Theaters, Inc. (Respondent)?
Held. No. The Petitioner had a substantial interest in avoiding the secondary effects of the adult stores and also allows the stores to be located in other areas of town. Thus, it is a constitutional content-neutral regulation.
Dissent. The ordinance places restrictions on establishments based on the content of the expression within it. Therefore, this is a content-based regulation.
Discussion. Because the ordinance does not ban the adult theaters completely, it is not content-based. As a content-neutral regulation it is subject to the time, place, manner analysis where a regulation is constitutional as long as it serves a substantial governmental interest and does not unreasonably limit alternative avenues of communication.