Monday, March 19, 2012

More on the First Amendment rights of tobacco companies.

A couple weeks ago, Mr. Torvik posted about a a district court judge in Washington D.C. who ruled that tobacco companies could not be forced to devote the top 50% of both the front and back of cigarette packages to "graphics depicting the negative consequences of smoking."

It appears that while the litigation that Mr. Torvik wrote about was underway, an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals on the same topic was also underway.  While the Sixth Circuit didn't consider the 9 images that were the focus of the D.C., lawsuit, it did address the top 50% issue and found that the government could force tobacco companies to devote the top 50% to graphics depicting the negative consequences of smoking.  The opinion is here.

To Mr. Torvik's point in his post, it does not appear from the opinion that anyone argued that tobacco companies can be compelled to print the graphics because the companies are not entitled to First Amendment protection.

One weird thing about the opinion is that  the author of most of the majority opinion, Judge Eric Clay, also wrote a dissent on  the constitutionality of the color graphic and non-graphic warning label requirement.  One doesn't see that every day.

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