Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Will Supreme Court Drink In College Paper Alcohol Ban 1st Amendment Case?

College Drinking SongsImage by ThisIsIt2 via FlickrThe Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 2-1 vote of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Educational Media Co. at Virginia Tech, Inc. et al. v. Susan R. Swecker, Commissioner, Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission et al, (Case No. 08-1798) that alcohol advertisement restrictions didn't violate two college newspapers' First Amendment rights, according to an Associated Press story. (See "TUOL" post April 12, 2010.)

The Cavalier Daily and The Collegiate Times claimed they lost $30,000 in advertising revenue because of  Alcohol Beverage Control Board regulations [3 Va. Admin. Code secs. 5-20-40(A) & (B)(3)] that prohibit the use of the term "happy hour," ban references to specific cocktails, and forbid beer, wine and mixed drink ads in student-operated publications except within the context of a restaurant ad.

AP said the ACLU filed the High Court petition Monday, arguing that the ban on non-deceptive advertising was unconstitutional and did not advance "important societal goals." The appellate court said the ABCB regs passed constitutional muster because they were narrowly tailored to curb underage and excessive drinking by college students and therefore, a permissible restriction on the papers' commercial speech rights.

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