College papers obtain right to advertise alcohol
Seven-year legal battle ends with favorable ruling by Court of Appeals
After a seven-year legal battle, an appellate court ruled Wednesday in favor of The Cavalier Daily and Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Times, allowing the two publications to publish advertisements for alcoholic beverages in college newspapers.
“I think this decision has significant potential to provide an alternative source of revenue for our advertising department, as well as catering to our readership, the majority of which is over 21,” said fourth-year College student Kaz Komolafe, editor-in-chief of The Cavalier Daily.
The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission had previously prohibited college student newspapers from printing alcohol advertisements, arguing during the court case that these promotions encouraged underage consumption and abuse of alcoholic beverages. A district court ruled in favor of the commission Sept. 7, 2012. The appeal, argued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, branded the ban as a violation of the First Amendment and discrimination against a narrow, student-run segment of the media.
Though the appellate court did not agree with the ACLU’s argument that the ban was unconstitutional and thus did not overturn the ban in its entirety, it did selectively remove The Cavalier Daily and the Collegiate Times from its purview. The appellate court’s decision found that because the majority of the plaintiff’s readers are aged 21 or older, and thus are legally allowed to consume the products being advertised, the ban could not apply to these specific papers. The case found that 64 percent of the University population is over 21, as is 60 percent of the Virginia Tech population.