Chesterfield, VA. – This week, a psychic in Virginia is in federal court fighting to be protected by the first amendment. Patricia King goes by the psychic name “Psychic Sophie.” Her fortunetelling business is in the town center of Chesterfield County. Her town’s zoning and licensing regulations are attempting to ban her business. She is fighting this law, stating that it violates her constitutional rights to free religion, speech, and equal protection.
If the city has its way, it will prohibit psychic-type businesses like King’s from setting up in strip malls. Patricia may have a chance at beating this ban. There have been similar cases where the courts turned over the law. Earlier this year in Louisiana, a federal judge ruled against the ban because the First Amendment protects businesses like this. Judge Dee Drell struck down the proposed ordinance to outlaw palm reading, fortunetelling, and astrology.
He believes that these services are fraudulent and deceitful. Psychics and fortunetellers providing accurate information aren’t scientifically proven, but it’s also never proven fraudulent. Because of this, it would be illegal to ban them from owning and operating a business of this nature. However, being allowed to run a business of this type comes with a responsibility. Just like doctors, lawyers, financial advisers, etc., they must deal with the threat of being sued for false information.
Psychic Sophie’s Fight Is Slightly Different
King doesn’t have to fight to open her business; she’s fighting to keep it where it is. City zoning and licensing ordinances outlaw fortunetelling in professional office complexes and strip malls. However, they are allowed to operate anywhere else in the city. Although the First Amendment allows her business to exist, it doesn’t allow a company to operate where local zoning laws prohibit it. A good example is a liquor or adult video store not operating near a church or a school.
The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond has three judges hearing King’s case starting December 4th. This appearance will be her second time in court since the first time U.S. District Judge John Gibney ruled against her. In sum, he stated that the city’s business zoning laws were appropriate and that the nature of her business was “deceptive.” Despite being unable to scientifically prove that psychic powers exist, it’s important to note that about 1 in 7 Americans has referred to a psychic at some point in their lives, and their services are in high demand.
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