August 4, 2004

Legislative Activity

Date:August 4, 2004

To: AAF Members

From: Jeff Perlman, EVP-government affairs
Jennifer Akridge, manager-government affairs

Re:First Amendment Upheld in Alcohol Advertisement

The Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled unconstitutional a Pennsylvania statue that prohibits publications affiliated with educational institutions from receiving paid alcoholic beverage advertisements. In The Pitt News v. Pappert , the Court ruled that the statute did not satisfy the third and fourth prongs of the Central Hudson test.

The court ruled that the statute did not satisfy the third prong of Central Hudson because it did not advance the substantial government interest in reducing underage drinking. No evidence was offered by the state to prove that a reduction in alcohol advertisements in The Pitt News would lead to a substantial decrease in irresponsible consumption and related activity on campus.

In addition, the statute failed the fourth prong of the Central Hudson test because it was both too under- and over-inclusive a means to satisfy the government's objective. The ruling noted that 75 percent of the University of Pittsburgh's family is of legal drinking age; making the statue too broad a restriction on the First Amendment and that directing the statue to a small university newspaper would not be effective in the overall scheme to reduce underage drinking on campus. Tougher enforcement of current alcohol beverage control laws on campus was cited as a more efficient method of achieving the government's desired goal.

Finally, the statute violates the First Amendment because “it unjustifiably imposes a financial burden on a particular segment of the media (i.e., media associated with universities and colleges).”

The following is a link to the ruling,