CASE BRIEF: 44 LIQUORMART, INC. v. RHODE ISLAND 517 U.S.

484 (1996) FACTS: Rhode Island passed a statute that prohibited liquor stores from advertising prices in the store (except on the bottle labels), and a second law that barred the media from publicizing such ads. The legislative goal was to reduce drinking by eliminating the competitive advertising that decreased prices and made alcohol more easily available. Liquor stores filed suit, claiming the prohibitions violated the First Amendment. PROCEDURAL HISTORY: The district court declared that the laws violated the first amendment, but the Court of Appeals reversed, holding the state's theory was logical. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari. ISSUE: Did Rhode Island violate the First Amendment right of freedom of speech by banning ads containing liquor prices? HOLDING: Yes. Reversed, in favor of liquor store. ROL: In order to uphold a restriction on commercial speech, the law must meet the following steps: ROL1. The law must involve truthful speech. Apply ROL 1: It is not disputed that truthful ads are involved. There is no false or deceptive advertising in this situation. ROL 2. The law must directly and substantially achieve the government's goal to a material degree (directly solve the problem in a meaningful way) Apply ROL 2: The State did not meet its burden of proof. There is no factual evidence at all to indicate that price advertising bans really helps promote temperance. The law does not directly and substantially achieve the state’s goal. The state must offer some empirical evidence to support its position, not just have a hunch that this solution might work. ROL 3. The restriction cannot be any more extensive than necessary to achieve the goal. (There must be a reasonable fit between the law and a legitimate goal. The law must allow for some other channel of communication). Apply ROL3: There is no reasonable fit between the law and its goal. A total ban on advertising by the store and in the media does not allow for any other means of communication. Other regulations that are not a complete ban could directly achieve the state's goal without restricting speech. Higher prices, increased taxation or limits on per capita purchases, or educational campaigns are other alternatives. ROL 4. Law cannot be “void for vagueness” (reasonable person must not have to guess at what is prohibited) Apply ROL4: It is undisputed that the law was drafted clearly enough that a reasonable person could understand which particular ads were prohibited.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful