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Bigelow v. Virginia

421 U.S. 809 (1975)

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Bigelow v. Virginia

United States Supreme Court

421 U.S. 809 (1975)

Facts

Virginia (plaintiff) had a statute (the statute) that made it illegal for any publication to encourage abortion. In 1971 the Virginia Weekly, a newspaper based in Charlottesville, Virginia, published an advertisement for an abortion clinic in New York. The advertisement explained that abortion had been legalized in New York and that New York residency was not required. Jeffrey C. Bigelow (defendant) was the managing editor of the Virginia Weekly. Bigelow was charged with violating the statute. Bigelow was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $500. Bigelow appealed his conviction, arguing that the statute was an unconstitutional restriction of the First Amendment freedoms of speech and press. The Virginia Supreme Court upheld the conviction after holding that the First Amendment did not apply to paid commercial advertisements. In reaching this conclusion, the Virginia Supreme Court relied on Valentine v. Chrestensen, 316 U.S. 52 (1942), a case in which the United State Supreme Court upheld a law that banned an advertisement for the exhibition of a submarine. Bigelow appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Blackmun, J.)

Dissent (Rehnquist, J.)

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