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Posadas de Puerto Rico Associates v. Tourism Co. of Puerto Rico

United States Supreme Court
478 U.S. 328 (1986)


Facts

The Puerto Rico legislature passed a law that authorized casino gambling but prohibited gambling facilities from advertising to residents of Puerto Rico. The law authorized Tourism Company of Puerto Rico (defendant), a public corporation, to implement regulations governing casino advertisement. The regulation authorized media advertisement outside Puerto Rico subject to pre-approval by the Tourism Company. A policy memorandum issued by the Tourism Company interpreted the regulation as prohibiting casino advertisement on any promotional materials, such as brochures, matchbooks, and gift items that might be accessible to Puerto Rico residents. The Tourism Company imposed fines against Posadas de Puerto Rico (plaintiff) pursuant to its policy interpretation. Posadas de Puerto Rico filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment that the law and the regulations implemented pursuant to the law violated its constitutional rights to commercial speech. The trial court implemented a narrow interpretation and held that the law and regulations were not unconstitutional if applied in accordance with the court’s construction. The trial court also held that the constitutional rights of Posadas de Puerto Rico had been violated by the Tourism Company’s prior application of the law and regulations. Posadas de Puerto Rico appealed the trial court’s finding of constitutionality. The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico dismissed the appeal on grounds that it failed to present a substantial constitutional question. The Tourism Company petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, J.)

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Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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