As part of Mayor Giuliani's attempt to Disney up Times Square in the '90s, the city banned “adult establishments” from residential neighborhoods and from operating within 500 feet of a school or place of worship. "Adult establishments" were defined as any place where more than 40 percent of products were sexual in nature. So many shops just brought in a bunch of martial arts DVDs and continued operating under a sexless facade. The city has been trying to close this loophole since 2001, but yesterday a judge ruled the effort unconstitutional.

"What the city is really regulating is the content of expression, clearly a violation of the plaintiff’s rights to freedom of speech," said Justice Louis B. York of State Supreme Court. The city has vowed to appeal, and the Law Department issued a statement saying, "We believe the court was right the first time when it ruled that 60-40 establishments have a predominant sexual focus. The city’s ability to regulate adult establishments is critical to preserving neighborhood quality of life."

The city is trying to get the so-called 60-40 establishments to close or move to industrial areas. Many have already done so, and the Times, which obtained a copy of Justice York's decision, writes:

Justice York’s decision included nine pages of descriptions on how some of the mixed-material establishments segregated their sexually oriented material and included nonsexual material of legitimate interest to consumers. For example, an area in Ten’s Cabaret in Manhattan that is separate from the establishment’s topless dancers has held events featuring the pop singers Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson, he wrote.

Clearly Judge York did his homework!