Monday, September 17, 2012

UPDATE: No 1st Amend. Violation in College Paper Alcohol Ad Ban

Logo of The Cavalier Daily
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has upheld the Commonwealth's Alcohol Beverage Control ("ABC") regulations that bar alcohol advertising from the University of Virginia's Cavalier Daily newspaper.

Judge M. Hannah Lauck conceded her alcohol advertisement ruling restricts commercial speech, but wrote: "it does not, nor does it tend to, restrict the length, content or substance of noncommercial speech," and therefore, does not impede the First Amendment rights of The Cavalier Daily. As reported by the Charlottesville, Va.-based The Daily Progress, the decision upheld the ABC regulations, recognizing that collegiate newspapers' principal audience is under age 21.

Pursuant to the relevant ABC regs., [3 Va. Admin. Code secs. 5-20-40(A) & (B)(3)], terms such as happy hour are banned and references to specific brands of alcohol, as well as beer, wine and mixed drink advertisements in student-run publications, except in the context of restaurant advertising, are prohibited. (See "TUOL" posts 11/30/10, 8/24/10, 4/12/10.)

Expert testimony for the government suggested binge drinking and alcohol consumption overall would lessen under the ban, but the college newspapers, who complained the ban cost them $30,000 in advertising revenues annually, presented expert testimony that alcohol ads promote brand loyalty and have little impact on the demand for intoxicating beverages.  The student publications, which were represented by the ACLU, have yet to decide whether to appeal.

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