A COMPANY that operates highway rest stops in New Jersey can legally remove fliers advertising an Atlantic City strip club, a federal appeals court ruled last week.

The three-judge panel at the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia considered a suit brought by Bare Exposure, which advertises itself as Atlantic City's only all-nude entertainment.

The club sued the company that operates service plazas on the Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway in 2012 after an employee removed the fliers.

The club contended the company, HMS Host Toll Roads, was acting as an agent of the state when it removed the fliers, making it a free-speech and due-process violation.

Bare Exposure argued in court filings that the influence of the state is evident by the fact that government signs and pictures of government officials are displayed in the service plazas, and that one plaza has a government information booth.

In a ruling published Thursday, the judges wrote that state authorities had no direct involvement in the removing of the fliers or in the day-to-day operation of the rest stop.

"The mere perception of governmental control is insufficient for finding state action," the judges wrote.