Constitutional Law Keyed to Cohen
44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island
Competitors of the Petitioner filed a complaint to the State of Rhode Island concerning the Petitioner’s 1991 advertisement in a Rhode Island newspaper. This advertisement did not state the price of any alcoholic beverages and in fact mentioned that State law prohibits the use of alcoholic beverage prices in advertising. The advertisement did state the low prices of peanuts, potato chips and mixers offered at the store, identified various brands of liquor sold in the store and included the word “WOW” in large letters next to the vodka and rum bottles in the ad. The competitors complained that the implied reference to bargain prices for liquor violated the statutory ban on price advertising. The Administrator investigated, and assessed a $400 fine. After paying the fine, the Petitioner filed this action in Federal District Court seeking a declaratory judgment that the two statutes restricting alcohol advertising and implementing regulations violate the First Amendment of the Co nstitution. The District Court concluded that the ban on price advertising of alcoholic beverages was unconstitutional, but the Court of Appeals reversed this decision causing the Petitioners to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court).
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