Bill brought foward to end ISP and cinema fight

Posted at 4:24 PM, Feb 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 19:34:38-05

Lawmakers in the Idaho Statehouse are intervening in a dispute between the Village Cinema and Idaho State Police about serving alcohol during sexually explicit movies.

A complaint filed by ISP (who enforces Idaho liquor laws) against the Village in Cinema says two undercover officers were served alcohol while watching '50 Shades of Grey.' That is in violation of an Idaho statute. So law enforcement moved to suspend the theater's liquor license.

The theater fired back and claimed that the Idaho Code was antiquated and violated their First Amendment rights. It argued the law places an undue burden on theaters to screen movies that may or may not qualify as "sexually explicit" and determine if serving alcohol was legal.

Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, sponsored the bill as a way to avoid potential litigation through the lower and upper courts.

“The state police, we have them in a situation right now where they cannot enforce the law. Well, They can enforce the law, but if they enforce the law, we're going to end up in court and there's a good chance it's going to be unconstitutional and we're going to lose in court," Rep. Palmer said.

His bill eliminates the section of code in dispute. It would be replaces with standards of indecent content found elsewhere in state code.

Lawyers for the cinema said if the bill passes, it will take care of the administrative complaint from ISP. However, it wouldn't completely settle the matter. They would pursue fees and charges against police for their action against the theater.