Brewvies asks for restraining order against Utah over showing ‘Deadpool’

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The lawyer for the movie theater facing revocation of its license for showing the movie "Deadpool" is asking a federal judge for a restraining order against Utah's alcohol control authority.

In a motion for a temporary restraining order filed in U.S. District Court and obtained by FOX 13, Brewvies lawyer Rocky Anderson seeks to block the state from enforcing the law prohibiting liquor licensees from showing nudity or certain sex acts.

"This Court should grant Brewvies’s request for a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction to prevent the chilling effect on free speech and the unconstitutional fine, or threat of a fine, and possible suspension or revocation of Brewvies’s liquor license that will follow if the defendants are allowed to continue to punish and threaten to punish Brewvies for showing films protected under the First Amendment and the Utah Constitution," he wrote.

Brewvies is suing the state over the law after it was threatened with its license for showing "Deadpool" in February. Undercover agents bought beer and watched the film. Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has halted an enforcement action while the lawsuit is pending.

In the filing, Anderson challenges the constitutionality of the law that has been used against the movie theater in the past. Brewvies was previously fined $1,627 for showing "The Hangover, Part II." Brewvies claims it has had its license threatened for also showing "Ted 2" and "Magic Mike XXL."

Anderson said Utah law violates Brewvies' rights under both the First Amendment.

Anderson attacked Utah's statute, saying it would prohibit Brewvies from showing works of art like Michaelangelo's "David" or Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus."

"The statute prohibits showing a person being touched on the genitals, but it does not indicate whether this prohibited touching is limited to exposed genitals or whether it applies to over-the-clothing touching as well," he wrote. "Therefore, it may be broad enough to prohibit the showing of baseball games and soccer matches on television."

A spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said Friday the agency had no comment on the lawsuit. In a statement, the Utah Attorney General's Office said it had a duty "to support and defend the DABC's enforcement of the current law."

"The Attorney General does not make the law.  Our duty is to defend both the state agency and the laws that are passed by the people. We will continue to advise DABC and defend their enforcement of current state law. The proper channel for changing state law is through the legislative process," said Daniel Burton, a spokesman for Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.

In an interview with FOX 13 earlier this week, a state senator tasked with overseeing liquor policy in Utah said he did not believe the legislature had an interest in changing the existing law.

On Friday night, U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer asked both Brewvies and the Utah Attorney General's Office to respond. The state argued that it would not be taking any enforcement action against Brewvies during the litigation -- making a restraining order unnecessary.

Brewvies said it is currently screening the movie "Keanu" which features a man sporting a necklace with male genitalia on it, making them fear DABC action over it. The theater also planned to show "Deadpool" again in a "First Amendment Celebration" on May 6.

Read Brewvies' motion for a temporary restraining order here:

Read the Utah Attorney General's response here:

23 comments

  • Jeff Kemp

    If you’re going to operate a business in Utah, you should automatically assume to be held by Utah law… that simple.

    • Anotherbob

      No not really, it’s a stupid law that shouldn’t exist. Have you taken a look at some of the dumb Utah laws on the books? Like how it’s illegal to not drink milk? Or how birds have right of way on the highway?

    • bob

      Let me understand…..in Utah it’s legal for an adult to drink a beer in a designated establishment. It’s legal for an adult to see a bare bottom on a movie screen. But it’s illegal to drink a beer while seeing a bare bottom?

      Anyone who is OK with this is a blind follower and an Authoritarian stooge.

      We are not a free country. We have the “freedom” to do what the government says we can do. Guess what? ALL human beings on the planet are “free”, by that standard. North Koreans are free to do what their government allows.

      The founding principle of the United States, unique in human history, is that ALL rights are inherent in the citizen, not doled out by government. We were supposed to be free to do absolutely anything so long as we did not infringe on the rights of others.

      There is no real difference between a Liberal and an Conservative. Just trivial disagreements over what the government should force us to believe and how we should act. Two sides of the same Authoritarian coin.

    • bob

      Every other cause he’s been involved with has failed. This one may have some legal legs. But if it’s possible for Rocky to mess it up he’ll find a way.

      I guess his “arrest George Bush” thing isn’t working out too well.

  • Ric

    When a law is so ambiguous that lawyer cannot interpret what it means then there will be a law suit every time when trying to get money from a business or private person.Sometimes laws are so stupid or outdated they just need to be dropped.

  • Chris

    Laws are not passed by the people, just as the law makers are not elected by the people. If congress has a 10% approval rating and a 90% re-election rating, than the laws are not being made by the people.

    • bob

      Congressmen get reelected because people vote for them. It’s not a “scam.” It’s human nature. We detest the institution, but it bruises our individual egos to admit that OUR guy is part of the problem.

  • feddup n. robbed weekly

    the utah liquor control board should be ABOLISHED. it is a CHURCH run, mis managed and CORRUPT monopoly that extorts exhorbitant prices from hard working, tax paying citizens under the false pretense of raising money to fund one of the least productive school systems in our once free country!!!

    • bob

      Utah spends less per pupil on education than any other state. So your rant is based on a false premise. Furthermore, our test scores are above the national average. We have one of the highest rates of college enrollment AND graduation in the country.

      I agree that alcohol shouldn’t be taxed any differently than any other product. But don’t denigrate what Utah teachers are able to accomplish while juggling the largest class sizes in America AND living below the poverty line for an average family.

  • Finny Wiggen

    Rocky Anderson sounds like an uneducated fool in his quote. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but his comments make him sound ignorant.

    Your first amendment right of freedom of speech does not include a right to serve alcohol while expressing yourself.

    His logic is utterly foolish. “What do you mean I can’t murder someone while showing porn… You are violating my first amendment right.” or… “what do you mean I can’t shoot up heroine while showing porn. You are violating my rights.”

    Rocky Anderson is really a dim light isn’t he!!

    • DK

      While 90% of the time Anderson is a damn fool, this time he is right. If you read the article you’ll notice he is using the first amendment and the 21ST AMENDMENT (repeals nationwide Prohibition on alcohol on January 17, 1920). In this case the law is cutting it pretty close to prohibition. they are simply finding ways around the 21st amendment to further control the sale of alcohol to the point were the amount of laws and hoops to jump through simply don’t make it worth while. And that is not how it should be.

      • Finny Wiggen

        21st amendment doesn’t guarantee anyone the right to drink. It simply repealed prohibition. This does not bar states from outlawing alcohol in their own borders.

      • bob

        How are YOUR rights violated if a consenting adult sees a naked behind while consuming a beer?

        If you can answer that then I’ll put in with you.

      • FinnyWiggen

        What in the world are you talking about Bob? Your comment doesn’t even relate to what we are discussing.

        No one said their rights were violated. Slow down and read the posts.

        Otherwise you just come off as ignorant.

  • Catlin Mills

    The proper way to change a law is through legislation yes, but when the legislation is owned as wholly by religion as this one is, and makes laws that violate the constitution like this one does, the court is the proper recourse. It is the courts duty to make sure laws are constitutional.

  • Jonathan

    If Utah doesn’t want to abide the United States constitution, then perhaps they should give back any and all Federal monies they get? They can secede as well, grow their own food, and not participate in this union at all.

    As for the first amendment, you have a classic case of the government controlling your freedoms here. Based on religious beliefs. This isn’t just one violation, but several.

Comments are closed.