</td></tr><tr><th colspan="2" style="text-align:center;background-color: #99c0ff; white-space:nowrap">Case opinions</th></tr><tr><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Majority</th><td>
Powell, joined by Burger, Stewart, White, Marshall</td></tr><tr><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Concurrence</th><td>
Brennan</td></tr><tr><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Concurrence</th><td>
Blackmun, joined by Brennan</td></tr><tr><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Concurrence</th><td>
Stevens, joined by Brennan</td></tr><tr><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Dissent</th><td>
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 & Electric Corp. had challenged a Public Service Commission regulation that prohibited promotional advertising by electric utilities. Justice Brennan, Justice Blackmun, and Justice Stevens wrote separate concurring opinions, and the latter two were both 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.
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:
- Is the expression protected by the First Amendment? For speech to come within that provision, it must concern lawful activity and not be misleading.
- Is the asserted governmental interest substantial?
- Does the regulation directly advance the governmental interest asserted?
- Is the regulation more extensive than is necessary to serve that interest?
- There must be a "reasonable fit" between the government's ends and the means for achieving those ends.
In contrast with Central Hudson, Posadas de Puerto Rico Associates v. Tourism Company of Puerto Rico (1986) held that it was not unconstitutional for Puerto Rico to restrict commercial advertisement of legal casino gambling to residents. Posadas remains a controversial case that illustrated the elasticity of the Central Hudson standards. 44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island (1996), however, held that a law prohibiting publication of liquor prices in Rhode Island was unconstitutional. Four of the justices deciding that case advocated to replace the Central Hudson test with a more rigorous, less permissive standard.
- 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.
- Text of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission, 447 U.S. 557 (1980) is available from: Findlaw Justia
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