|Florida Bar v. Went for It, Inc. (94-226), 515 U.S. 618 (1995). |
[ Kennedy ]
[ O'Connor ]
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
FLORIDA BAR v. WENT
FOR IT, INC., et al.
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the eleventh circuit
Respondent lawyer referral service and an individual Florida attorney filed this action for declaratory and injunctive relief challenging, as violative of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, Florida Bar rules prohibiting personal injury lawyers from sending targeted direct mail solicitations to victims and their relatives for 30 days following an accident or disaster. The District Court entered summary judgment for the plaintiffs, relying on Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350, and subsequent cases. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed on similar grounds.
Held: In the circumstances presented here, the Florida Bar rules do not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Pp. 3-16.
(a) Bates and its progeny establish that lawyer advertising is commercial speech and, as such, is accorded only a limited measure of First Amendment protection. Under the "intermediate" scrutiny framework set forth in Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Comm'n of N. Y., 447 U.S. 557, a restriction on commercial speech that, like the advertising at issue, does not concern unlawful activity and is not misleading is permissible if the government: (1) asserts a substantial interest in support of its regulation; (2) establishes that the restriction directly and materially advances that interest; and (3) demonstrates that the regulation is " `narrowly drawn,' " id., at 564-565. Pp. 3-5.
(b) The Florida Bar's 30 day ban on targeted direct mail solicitation withstands Central Hudson scrutiny. First, the Bar has substantial interest both in protecting the privacy and tranquility of personal injury victims and their loved ones against invasive, unsolicited contact by lawyers and in preventing the erosion of confidence in the profession that such repeated invasions have engendered. Second, the fact that the harms targeted by the ban are quite real is demonstrated by a Bar study, effectively unrebutted by respondents below, that contains extensive statistical and anecdotal data suggesting that the Florida public views direct mail solicitations in the immediate wake of accidents as an intrusion on privacy that reflects poorly upon the profession. Edenfield v. Fane, 507 U. S. ___, ___%___; Shapero v. Kentucky Bar Assn., 486 U.S. 466, 475-476; and Bolger v. Youngs Drug Products Corp., 463 U.S. 60, 72, distinguished. Third, the ban's scope is reasonably well tailored to its stated objectives. Moreover, its duration is limited to a brief 30 day period, and there are many other ways for injured Floridians to learn about the availability of legal representation during that time. Pp. 5-16.
21 F. 3d 1038, reversed.
O'Connor, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and Scalia, Thomas, and Breyer, JJ., joined. Kennedy, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined.