Right of College Newspapers to Advertise Alcohol, Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech v. Insley 

Alcoholic Beverage Control Board prohibits the advertisement of beer, wine, and mixed drinks in “college student publications.”   3 VAC 5-20-40.   Any violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor.  ABC regulations also prohibit the use of certain words in advertising.  For example, “all references to mixed beverages are prohibited except the following: ‘Mixed Drinks,’ ‘Mixed Beverages,’ ‘Exotic Drinks,’ ‘Polynesian Drinks,’ ‘Cocktails,’ ‘Cocktail Lounges,’ ‘Liquor,’ and ‘Spirits.’  We filed suit on behalf of Virginia Tech’s student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, and the University of Virginia’s student newspaper, The Cavalier Daily, arguing that these regulations violate their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press. Summary judgment motions were filed on March 12, 2007 and was argued on May 31, 2007. On March 31, 2008, the U.S. District Court ruled that the regulation was unconstitutional. The state appealed. The court heard arguments on October 29, 2009 and on April 9, 2010, the Fourth Circuit ruled 2-1 that the regulation is constitutional.  On April 23, 2010, we filed a petition for rehearing en banc, which was denied.  In August, we filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case on November 29, 2010.  The case has been remanded to district court to rule on plaintiff's alternate legal theory that the regulation unconstitutionally discriminates against a narrow segment of the media. The court ordered the plaintiffs to file summary judgment briefs as to the constitutionality of the regulation.   On remand, the district court granted summary judgment to ABC on September 7, 2012.  We appealed and argument took place on May 14, 2013.  On September 25, 2013, the Fourth Circuit ruled that the regulation is unconstitutional as applied to the plaintiffs. ABC subsequently agreed to pay the plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees.

Court Documents (click links to view .pdf)
Petition for Writ of Certiorari- U.S. Supreme Court
Opinion- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia
Complaint- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia
Opinion – Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

Attorney(s)

Rebecca Glenberg, ACLU of Virginia

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Frank Feibelman, Richmond

Date filed

June 8, 2006

Court

U.S. District Court, Richmond

Status

Closed

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