Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commn. of New York

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Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commn. of New York
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Citation
Date decided June 20, 1980
Appealed from New York Court of Appeals (highest court)

Facts

The 1973 oil crisis caused a fuel shortage in the United States.

The Public Service Commission of New York (the Commission) found that the state's utilities companies didn't have enough electric power to supply to the state of New York.

The Commission order the state's electric companies to stop advertising in order to avoid exacerbating the energy crisis; the Commission didn't want the state's residents to be encouraged to consume more energy.

A few years later in 1976, the Commission consider lifting the advertising ban on electric companies.

Procedural History

Central Hudson sued the Commission in state court after the Commission extended the advertising ban in 1976.

Central Hudson loses at every level of New York state courts.

Issues

Can government limit advertising by a business? To what extent without running afoul of the First Amendment?

What are the limits of commercial speech?

Holding

The 1st Amendment allows the government to impose a total advertising ban.

However, the advertising ban must be narrowly tailored to serve a substantial government interest.

Central Hudson wins at SCOTUS because the complete advertising ban was too extensive in the late 1970s.

Rule

Commercial speech receives some government protection.

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