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Metromedia v. City of San Diego

United States Supreme Court
453 U.S. 490 (1981)


Facts

Metromedia (plaintiff) is a company engaged in the business of outdoor advertising in San Diego, California. It owns a large number of billboards throughout the city. The City of San Diego (City) passed a land-use ordinance that greatly curtailed the types of outdoor advertisements permissible in San Diego. Signs affixed to the property where the advertised goods or services were offered were deemed permissible. Advertisements of goods or services available elsewhere were barred. Furthermore, all noncommercial advertising was prohibited unless the advertisement fit within twelve enumerated exceptions. The ordinance’s two purposes were to promote traffic safety by removing distracting advertisement displays and to improve the aesthetics of the city. Metromedia brought suit, seeking to enjoin enforcement of the ordinance. The parties stipulated that many businesses resorted to outdoor advertising because other forms of advertisement were insufficient for their needs. The parties also stipulated that the ordinance would essentially eliminate the business of outdoor advertising in the city. The trial court held that the ordinance was unconstitutional. The California Court of Appeal affirmed. The California Supreme Court reversed, holding that the City’s two purposes were legitimate and that the ordinance was constitutionally permissible under the First Amendment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

Concurrence (Brennan, J.)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Burger, C.J.)

Dissent (Rehnquist, J.)

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