Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc.

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Renton v. Playtime Theatres, Inc.
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Date decided February 25, 1986
Appealed from 9th Circuit


The City of Renton, Washington, ("Renton") passed a zoning ordinance prohibiting adult theaters within 1,000 feet of “any residential zone, single or multiple-family dwelling, church, park, or school.”

Playtime Theatres ("Playtime") purchased 2 theaters in areas where the Renton had prohibited the displaying of adult movies in a public theater.

Procedural History

Playtime filed a suit alleging that the Renton ordinance was unconstitutional.

Renton wins in the district court, but Renton loses in the 9th Circuit.


Do municipal regulation of prurient businesses violate the freedom of expression under the 1st Amendment?


Rehnquist argued that Renton didn't completely prohibit adult movie theaters in the city perimeter.

Brennan dissented and argued that the zoning ordinance was ultimately content-based discrimination even though the ordinance provided alternative venues for Playtime Theaters.


Renton restriction on adult movie theaters in proximity of residential areas is okay. “Content-neutral” time, place, and manner regulations are acceptable so long as they are designed to serve a substantial governmental interest and provide reasonable alternative locations for freedom of expression.