South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Blanket Prohibition on Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages Unconstitutional
Description Georgia high court held that a city ordinance that prohibited any advertising of alcoholic beverages was unconstitutional. The product was legal to sell, and the advertising was truthful. The city could not show that the restriction promoted temperance as it claimed.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words First Amendment; Advertising; Liquor
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Folsom owns the Blue Rodeo Café. She advertised that at a New Year's Eve party she would serve champagne. Another time she advertised "Miller Lite Promotion Party Saturday Night." The City of Jasper suspended her liquor license for 30 days and imposed a one-year probation because she violated the city's Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance by advertising the sale of alcoholic beverages. The ordinance prohibits advertisements of any kind for alcoholic beverages. The district court upheld the penalty; Folsom appealed.

Reversed. The test for determining whether laws restricting commercial speech related to alcoholic beverages violate the First Amendment is 1) whether the law constitutes a blanket prohibition against truthful, non-misleading speech about a lawful product; 2) whether the law seeks to promote temperance, a substantial governmental interest; 3) whether the law significantly advances the government's interest in promoting temperance; and 4) whether the law restricting speech is not more extensive than necessary. The ordinance violates this test and is unconstitutional because it is a blanket prohibition against truthful speech about a lawful product. The city claims the restriction promotes temperance, but it failed to show that the ordinance reduced the prevalence of drinking.

Citation Folsom v. City of Jasper, ---S.E.2d--- (2005 WL 949242, Sup. Ct., Ga., 2005)

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