44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island, 517 U. S. 484 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

As a matter of law, he concluded that the price advertising ban was unconstitutional because it did not "directly advance" the State's interest in reducing alcohol consumption and was "more extensive than necessary to serve that interest." Id., at 555. He reasoned that the party seeking to uphold a restriction on commercial speech carries the burden of justifying it and that the Twenty-first Amendment did not shift or diminish that burden. Acknowledging that it might have been reasonable for the state legislature to "assume a correlation between the price advertising ban and reduced consumption," he held that more than a rational basis was required to justify the speech restriction, and that the State had failed to demonstrate a reasonable " 'fit' " between its policy objectives and its chosen means. Ibid.

The Court of Appeals reversed. 39 F. 3d 5 (CA1 1994). It found "inherent merit" in the State's submission that competitive price advertising would lower prices and that lower prices would produce more sales. Id., at 7. Moreover, it agreed with the reasoning of the Rhode Island Supreme Court that the Twenty-first Amendment gave the statutes an added presumption of validity. Id., at 8. Alternatively, it concluded that reversal was compelled by this Court's summary action in Queensgate Investment Co. v. Liquor Control Comm'n of Ohio, 459 U. S. 807 (1982). See 39 F. 3d, at 8. In that case the Court dismissed the appeal from a decision of the Ohio Supreme Court upholding a prohibition against off-premises advertising of the prices of alcoholic beverages sold by the drink. See Queensgate Investment Co. v. Liquor Control Comm'n of Ohio, 69 Ohio St. 2d 361, 433 N. E. 2d 138 (1982).

Queensgate has been both followed and distinguished in subsequent cases reviewing the validity of similar advertising bans.6 We are now persuaded that the importance of

6 In Dunagin v. Oxford, 718 F. 2d 738 (1983), the Fifth Circuit distinguished our summary action in Queensgate in considering the constitutionality of a sweeping state restriction on outdoor liquor adver-

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