- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Three women fighting Louisiana’s new law making 21 the minimum age for working as a stripper are arguing in federal court that they shouldn’t have to reveal their names.

Each woman is listed in court records as Jane Doe. Each wants to keep it that way, but the state alcohol commissioner - the defendant in the women’s lawsuit - objects.

The state says in its filings that federal courts only allow plaintiffs to hide their identities in rare cases. And they note that the plaintiffs - ages 18, 19 and 20 - filed the suit so they could continue to “publicly express themselves” through erotic dance. The state’s lawyers also state that dancers opposed to the law testified under their own name at a Senate committee hearing on the law.

In a brief filed Thursday, the women’s lawyer, former U.S. Attorney Harry Rosenberg argued that the state’s case won’t suffer if the women’s names remain secret.

“Instead, the opposition seems to be motivated by the state’s apparent hope that if plaintiffs are not allowed to proceed pseudonymously, they may opt not to pursue this important constitutional case to avoid the potential of public intimidation, harassment, and provocation by the few that hope to be the moral compass for the entire State,” Rosenberg wrote.

The law making 21 the minimum age for “entertainers whose breasts or buttocks are exposed to view” was passed by the Legislature this past summer. Backers called it called it a tool to fight human trafficking.

The women suing argue that it violates their right to free expression, illegally deprives them of income and discriminates against them based on age and gender. They also argue that some young women might actually fall into a life of prostitution if they are denied the right to make a legal living in strip clubs.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has blocked enforcement of the law pending further proceedings. In addition to the issue of the women’s identities, lawyers are arguing about whether the case should proceed in New Orleans, where the suit was filed, or in Baton Rouge, where the law was passed.

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