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

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Cite as: 517 U. S. 484 (1996)

Opinion of Stevens, J.

the First Amendment issue, as well the suggested relevance of the Twenty-first Amendment, merits more thorough analysis than it received when we refused to accept jurisdiction of the Queensgate appeal. We therefore granted certiorari. 514 U. S. 1095 (1995).


Advertising has been a part of our culture throughout our history. Even in colonial days, the public relied on "commercial speech" for vital information about the market. Early newspapers displayed advertisements for goods and services on their front pages, and town criers called out prices in public squares. See J. Wood, The Story of Advertising 21, 45-69, 85 (1958); J. Smith, Printers and Press Freedom 49 (1988). Indeed, commercial messages played such a central role in public life prior to the founding that Benjamin Franklin authored his early defense of a free press in support of his decision to print, of all things, an advertisement for voyages to Barbados. Franklin, An Apology for Print-tising. The court explained that Queensgate did not control because it involved a far narrower alcohol advertising regulation. Id., at 745-746. By contrast, in Oklahoma Telecasters Assn. v. Crisp, 699 F. 2d 490, 495- 497 (1983), rev'd on other grounds sub nom. Capital Cities Cable, Inc. v. Crisp, 467 U. S. 691, 697 (1984), the Tenth Circuit relied on Queensgate in considering a prohibition against broadcasting alcohol advertisements. The Court of Appeals concluded that Queensgate stood for the proposition that the Twenty-first Amendment gives the State greater authority to regulate liquor advertising than the First Amendment would otherwise allow. 699 F. 2d, at 495-497.

Other than the two Rhode Island Supreme Court decisions upholding the constitutionality of the statutes at issue in this case, only one published state court opinion has considered our summary action in Queensgate in passing on a liquor advertising restriction. See Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Assn. v. Attorney General, 142 Mich. App. 294, 370 N. W. 2d 328 (1985). There, the Michigan Court of Appeals concluded that Queens-gate did not control because it involved a far narrower restriction on liquor advertising than the one that Michigan had imposed. 142 Mich. App., at 304-305, 370 N. W. 2d, at 333-335.


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