Court Rules On Vice Ads

But Case May Go To Supreme Court Anyway
WASHINGTON, D.C.–A federal court decision in New Orleans involving casino gambling advertising may lead to a U.S. Supreme Court review of conflicting state limits on vice ads.
Judges on the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals voted 2-1 last week to uphold a ban on the airing of casino ads in a suit brought by the Greater New Orleans Broadcasting Association. The case had been sent back by the Supreme Court last year, after it ruled that the dispute was covered by a decision in a case involving 44 Liquormart and its newspaper ads. The ruling held that liquor ads can be published as long as they are truthful.
But the lead judge on the appeals panel wrote, “Has the Supreme Court gone over the edge in constitutionalizing speech protection for socially harmful activities?” The judge cited seemingly conflicting opinions about casino ads and alcohol ads in various appeals cases. Calling the federal government’s policy towards gambling “consciously ambivalent,” the jurist warned unless the ruling is upheld, “There will be no federal protection for noncasino gambling states, and their citizens will be subject to the influence of broadcast advertising” which crosses state borders.
“The real issue will be whether the First Amendment, as it applies to commercial speech, can be dictated by geography,” said Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers.
“In light of the different opinions by several appeals courts this will probably be taken up by the Supreme Court [which] will probably uphold the First Amendment rights of advertisers,” Jaffe said.