Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission

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Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued March 17, 1980
Decided June 20, 1980
Full case name Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission
Citations 447 U.S. 557 (more)
100 S. Ct. 2343; 65 L. Ed. 2d 341; 1980 U.S. LEXIS 48; 6 Media L. Rep. 1497; 34 P.U.R.4th 178
Holding
A regulation of appellee New York Public Service Commission which completely bans an electric utility from advertising to promote the use of electricity violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Powell, joined by Burger, Stewart, White, Marshall
Concurrence Brennan
Concurrence Blackmun, joined by Brennan
Concurrence Stevens, joined by Brennan
Dissent Rehnquist

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission, 447 U.S. 557 (1980), was an important case decided by the United States Supreme Court that laid out a four-part test for determining when restrictions on commercial speech violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Justice Powell wrote the opinion of the court. Central Hudson Gas had challenged a Public Service Commission regulation that prohibited promotional advertising by electric utilities. Justice Blackmun and Justice Stevens wrote separate concurring opinions and were joined by Justice Brennan. Justice Rehnquist dissented.

The case presented the question whether a regulation of the New York Public Service Commission violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments because it completely bans promotional advertising by an electrical utility.

Holding[edit]

The court ruled that a regulation that completely bans an electric utility from advertising to promote the use of electricity violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The court instituted a four-step analysis for commercial speech to the Commission's arguments in support of its ban on promotional advertising:

  1. Is the expression protected by the First Amendment? For speech to come within that provision, it must concern lawful activity and not be misleading.
  2. Is the asserted governmental interest substantial?
  3. Does the regulation directly advance the governmental interest asserted?
  4. Is the regulation more extensive than is necessary to serve that interest?
  -There must be "reasonable fit" between the government's ends
   and the means for achieving those ends.

Related cases[edit]

Posadas de Puerto Rico Associates v. Tourism Company of Puerto Rico, in which the Supreme Court determined that it was not unconstitutional for Puerto Rico to restrict commercial advertisement of legal casino gambling to residents, is regarded as a landmark case illustrating the elasticity of the Central Hudson standards.[1] In 44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island (1996), in which case a law prohibiting publication of liquor prices in Rhode Island was ruled unconstitutional, four justices advocated replacing the Central Hudson test with a more rigorous, less permissive standard.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Moore, Roy L.; Ronald T. Farrar; Erik Collins (1998). Advertising and public relations law. Routledge. p. 34. ISBN 0-8058-1679-8. 
  2. ^ Mauro, Tony (1999-01-20). "High court to re-examine commercial speech with gambling-ads case". The First Amendment Center. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hemmer, Joseph J., Jr. (2003). "Central Hudson Gas & Electric v. Public Service Commission". In Parker, Richard A. (ed.). Free Speech on Trial: Communication Perspectives on Landmark Supreme Court Decisions. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press. pp. 234–249. ISBN 0-8173-1301-X. 

External links[edit]

  • Text of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission, 447 U.S. 557 (1980) is available from:  Findlaw  Justia