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U.S. Supreme Court

Pittsburgh Press Co. v. Human Rel. Comm'n, 413 U.S. 376 (1973)

Pittsburgh Press Co. v. Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations

No. 72-419

Argued March 20, 1973

Decided June 21, 1973

413 U.S. 376


Following a complaint and hearing, respondent Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations held that petitioner had violated a city ordinance by using an advertising system in its daily newspaper whereby employment opportunities are published under headings designating job preference by sex. On appeal from affirmance of the Commission's cease and desist order, the court below barred petitioner from referring to sex in employment headings, unless the want ads placed beneath them relate to employment opportunities not subject to the ordinance's prohibition against sex discrimination. Petitioner contends that the ordinance contravenes its constitutional rights to freedom of the press.

Held: The Pittsburgh ordinance, as construed to forbid newspapers to carry sex-designated advertising columns for nonexempt job opportunities, does not violate petitioner's First Amendment rights. Pp. 413 U. S. 381-391.

(a) The advertisements here, which did not implicate the newspaper's freedom of expression or its financial viability, were "purely commercial advertising," which is not protected by the First Amendment. Valentine v. Chrestensen, 316 U. S. 52, 316 U. S. 54. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U. S. 254, distinguished. Pp. 413 U. S. 384-387.

(b) Petitioner's argument against maintaining the Chrestensen distinction between commercial and other speech is unpersuasive in the context of a case like this, where the regulation of the want ads was incidental to and coextensive with the regulation of employment discrimination. Pp. 413 U. S. 387-389.

(c) The Commission's order, which was clear and no broader than necessary, is not a prior restraint endangering arguably protected speech. Pp. 413 U. S. 389-390.

4 Pa.Commw. 448, 287 A.2d 161, affirmed.

POWELL, .J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J.,

Page 413 U. S. 377

post, p. 413 U. S. 393, and DOUGLAS, J., post, p. 413 U. S. 397, filed dissenting opinions. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, J., joined, post, p. 413 U. S. 400. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 413 U. S. 404.

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