Does the First Amendment Protect Beer Labels?

The National Law Journal reports:

A federal appeals revived the craft beer maker’s claims that Michigan liquor officials violated the First Amendment by blocking the sale of the company’s “Raging Bitch” brew in the state.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit sent the Maryland brewery’s case back for a trial judge to rule on the constitutional issue, ruling that the liquor officials were not entitled to immunity. In a 2-1 decision, the majority stopped short of deciding the First Amendment question.

Judge Karen Moore wrote that she would have ruled outright in favor of the brewery.

“The First Amendment protects the right to engage in commercial speech free from government suppression that does not directly advance a state interest and is not tailored to be no more extensive than necessary,” Moore wrote. “The commissioners have no evidence—anecdotal, empirical, or otherwise—that the sight of the ‘Raging Bitch’ label would harm the citizens of Michigan.”



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