Ibanez v. Florida Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation, Bd. of Accountancy, 512 U.S. 136 (1994)

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certiorari to the district court of appeal of florida, first district

No. 93-639. Argued April 19, 1994—Decided June 13, 1994

Petitioner Ibanez is a member of the Florida Bar; she is also a Certified

Public Accountant (CPA) licensed by respondent Florida Board of Accountancy (Board), and is authorized by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, a private organization, to use the designation "Certified Financial Planner" (CFP). She referred to these credentials in her advertising and other communication with the public concerning her law practice, placing CPA and CFP next to her name in her yellow pages listing and on her business cards and law offices stationery. Notwithstanding the apparent truthfulness of the communication—it is un-disputed that neither her CPA license nor her CFP authorization has been revoked—the Board reprimanded her for engaging in "false, deceptive, and misleading" advertising. The District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District, affirmed.

Held: The Board's decision censuring Ibanez is incompatible with First

Amendment restraints on official action. Pp. 142-149. (a) Ibanez' use of the CPA and CFP designations qualifies as "commercial speech." The State may ban such speech only if it is false, deceptive, or misleading. See, e. g., Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel of Supreme Court of Ohio, 471 U. S. 626, 638. If it is not, the State can restrict it, but only upon a showing that the restriction directly and materially advances a substantial state interest in a manner no more extensive than necessary to serve that interest. See, e. g., Central Hudson Gas & Elec. Corp. v. Public Serv. Comm'n of N. Y., 447 U. S. 557, 564, 566. The State's burden is not slight: It must demonstrate that the harms it recites are real and that its restrictions will in fact alleviate them to a material degree. See, e. g., Edenfield v. Fane, 507 U. S. 761, 771. Measured against these standards, the order reprimanding Ibanez cannot stand. Pp. 142-143. (b) The Board asserts that Ibanez' use of the CPA designation on her commercial communications is misleading in that it tells the public she is subject to the Florida Accountancy Act and to the Board's jurisdiction "when she believes and acts as though she is not." This position is insubstantial. Ibanez no longer contests the Board's assertion of juris-

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