A federal judge Tuesday upheld New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy’s closure of movie theaters in the state, dismissing a motion for an injunction by the National Association of Theatre Owners and five cinema chains that would have allowed them to open their doors.
Judge Brian Martinotti ruled that the state is not infringing on the theaters First Amendment rights to free speech in enforcing its pandemic-related closure. Theaters had tried to make a case for discrimination since New Jersey allowed churches to open but not movie theaters.
The case has offered a close-up look at the effort by beleaguered theaters to restart business again after months of shutdowns due to COVID-19.
In July, the judge denied a temporary restraining order but had agreed to hear arguments on theaters’ request for a preliminary injunction.