Utah legislature may review liquor law at the center of ‘Deadpool’ lawsuit

Posted at 3:13 PM, Sep 01, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah State Legislature may review a law struck down by a federal judge in a lawsuit over alcohol, sex and the movie "Deadpool."

A federal judge on Thursday night sided with Brewvies in its lawsuit against Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, ruling the state statute violated the movie theater-and-bar's First Amendment rights.

Brewvies faced revocation of its liquor license for showing "Deadpool" last year. Utah law forbids licensees from showing anything with full nudity or explicit sexual conduct. The theater turned around and sued the DABC, challenging the constitutionality of the law.

A poster of Deadpool lounging on a copy of the U.S. Constitution is on display inside Brewvies in downtown Salt Lake City. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

"Where does it end? They’re making the decision of what we can show and what we can’t show rather than our customers making the decision," Norman Chesler, a manager at Brewvies, told FOX 13 on Friday.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer granted Brewvies' motion for summary judgment and permanent injunction, blocking the state from taking any action against them.

"Our customers are 21 years and older. They’re adults, and, more than anything, it’s our First Amendment rights," Chesler said.

The Utah Attorney General's Office and the DABC said Friday they were reviewing the judge's ruling and considering whether to appeal to Denver's 10th U.S. Circuit Court. Brewvies' attorney said it could be an expensive mistake.

RELATED: Read the judge's ruling in the "Deadpool" lawsuit here

"I can’t imagine the state appealing this case. It’s rock solid under the law," Rocky Anderson told FOX 13. "They would be absolutely foolish and it would cost them in the long run, I think hundreds of thousands more because they’re going to be liable for attorneys fees incurred by Brewvies in this matter."

The judge's ruling will likely apply to other theaters and businesses that faced similar punishment. Recently, the Eccles Theater wouldn't allow patrons to drink beer while watching "The Book of Mormon" musical because of a scene where genitalia was shown for fear of violating the law.

Brewvies plans to show one of the films that got it in trouble with the DABC, "The Hangover Part II." (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Two powerful state lawmakers FOX 13 spoke with on Friday indicated they would look at the statute in the aftermath of the judge's ruling.

"I need to meet with leadership and legal counsel before deciding what we do and if we need a fix," said Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, who is tasked by the Senate Republican majority with running liquor legislation.

Senate Minority Whip Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, said she would also look at the law.

"This just brings focus back to the fact that we need reasonable liquor regulations in the state of Utah," she said in a text message.

The Idaho State Legislature repealed a similar law when faced with the threat of a lawsuit over the film "50 Shades of Grey."

Brewvies was preparing to celebrate their win in court by thanking loyal customers who stood by them and even donated money to their legal fund. Chesler said Brewvies would offer free showings of some of the movies they previously faced trouble from the DABC over -- including "The Hangover Part II," "Magic Mike XXL" and, of course, "Deadpool."