Va. Court Hears 1 Aspect Of College Alcohol Ad Case

Ann McClure's picture
Friday, September 16, 2011

The Virginia Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on whether a publication produced on campus by university undergraduates is a "college newspaper" if at least half of its readers are 21 or older.

The answer could determine whether the student newspapers at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, which claim a mostly adult readership, are subject to a state prohibition against liquor advertising in college newspapers. A decision is likely by early November.

The narrow issue is a remnant of a 2006 lawsuit filed by Virginia Tech's Collegiate Times and U.Va.'s Cavalier Daily challenging the decades-old ban. U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Hannah Lauck overturned it in 2008, ruling that it violated the papers' constitutional rights to free speech.

That was reversed by a federal appeals court, which said the ban is narrowly tailored to serve the state's interest in curbing underage drinking.

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