Laws against drag shows trample free speech rights

Pen America CEO Suzanne Nossel, The Guardian, March 10, 2023, writes that 32 states are considering laws to curb drag performances. Nossel says, “Most bills define a drag performer as someone performing while using dress, makeup and mannerisms associated with a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth.” The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that clothing choice is protected under the First Amendment.

Philosophy professor Mark Satta, FlaglerLive, March 6, 2023, writes that legislatures have tried to dodge the First Amendment by arguing that drag shows are obscene despite there being no instances of obscene drag performances and that drag performances are artistic and political, fitting the Supreme Court definition of allowable expression.