VIRGINIA PHARMACY BD. v. VIRGINIA CONSUMER COUNCIL

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
74-895
Appellee 
Virginia Consumer Council
Appellant 
Virginia Pharmacy Bd.
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the appellees)
(Argued the cause for the appellants)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Acting on behalf of prescription drug consumers, the Virginia Citizens Consumer Council challenged a Virginia statute that declared it unprofessional conduct for licensed pharmacists to advertise their prescription drug prices. On appeal from an adverse ruling by a three-judge District Court panel, the Supreme Court granted the Virginia State Board of Pharmacy review.

Question 

Is a statutory ban on advertising prescription drug prices by licensed pharmacists a violation of "commercial speech" under the First Amendment?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for Virginia Consumer Council, 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly

Yes. In a 7-to-1 opinion, the Court held that the First Amendment protects willing speakers and willing listeners equally. The Court noted that in cases of commercial speech, such as price advertising, freedom of speech protections apply just as they would to noncommercial speech. Even speech that is sold for profit, or involves financial solicitations, is protected. The Court concluded that although the Virginia State Board of Pharmacy has a legitimate interest in preserving professionalism among its members, it may not do so at the expense of public knowledge about lawful competitive pricing terms.

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VIRGINIA PHARMACY BD. v. VIRGINIA CONSUMER COUNCIL. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 November 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_74_895>.
VIRGINIA PHARMACY BD. v. VIRGINIA CONSUMER COUNCIL, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_74_895 (last visited November 25, 2014).
"VIRGINIA PHARMACY BD. v. VIRGINIA CONSUMER COUNCIL," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed November 25, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_74_895.