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State Law Restricting Distribution of Accident Reports Violates First Amendment
Description Appeals court held that a Kentucky statute that limited access to accident reports to only the media and insurance companies was unconstitutional. The restriction on speech did not support the alleged government interest in protecting the privacy of accident victims.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words First Amendment, Privacy, Solicitations
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A Kentucky statute restricted the disbursement of automobile accident reports to protect the privacy of accident victims. Both attorneys and chiropractors challenged the statute as being in violation of the First Amendment right of freedom and expression. They frequently obtained the accident reports so as to send solicitation letters for their services to the victims. The district court enjoined enforcement of the statute; the state appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The Supreme Court's Central Hudson test is applied in cases such as this. The speech at issue is not illegal or misleading, but the government has a substantial interest in protecting the privacy of accident victims. However, the statute here does not directly advance the government interest. The state makes the information available to the media and to insurance companies. Since those parties can inspect accident reports, the state's claim of privacy protection does not have merit.
Citation Amelkin v. McClure, -- F.3d -- (1999 WL 73993, 6th Cir.)
168 F. 3d 893 (6th Cir., 1999)

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