Repeal of Alcohol Ban is Irresponsible Court Decision

A United States Court of Appeals has overturned a Pennsylvania law that prohibits paid alcohol ads in college newspapers. The Court said the prohibition violated First Amendment rights to free speech guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Dr. Clay Calvert, Penn State professor of media law said “it’s a great victory for the college-level pres in Pennsylvania. He emphasized that the case sets a good precedent for college newspapers elsewhere. Three other states (Utah, New Hampshire, and Virginia) still prohibit alcohol ads in college newspapers, according to the Student Pres Law Center.

“The idea of making it a crime to publish lawful information in a newspaper is just incredible,” says a director of the Pennsylvania Civil Liberties Union, which supported the case. Also supporting the defense of free speech rights were the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, The Students Press Law Center, and the Reports Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says the court’s decision is “irresponsible,“ “a step in the wrong direction,” and believes that Pennsylvania should appeal the ruling.

Unfortunately, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has a long tradition of hostility toward basic Constitutional rights. This tendency is especially strong in regard to the rights of the accused. MADD tends to assume the accused to be guilty unless they can prove their innocence. MADD has not identified a single instance in which it has ever, even once in its long history, defended the rights of an accused defendant, regardless of the circumstances.


For examples of MADD's antagonism toward fundamental human rights visit Mothers Against Drunk Driving: A Crash Course on MADD.


  • Shaffer, Tyler. Court: Alcohol ads law unconstitutional. The Digital Collegian, August 3, 2004; Snyder, Susan. Ruling could put alcohol ads back in college newspapers. A federal court overturned a Pa. law that banned paid alcohol ads. Schools and their student papers are assessing the impact. Philadelphia Inquirer, August 4, 2004.