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U.S. Supreme Court

Hoffman Estates v. The Flipside, Hoffman Estates, 455 U.S. 489 (1982)

Village of Hoffman Estates v. The Flipside, Hoffman Estates, Inc.

No. 80-1681

Argued December 9, 1981

Decided March 3, 1982

455 U.S. 489


An ordinance of appellant village requires a business to obtain a license if it sells any items that are "designed or marketed for use with illegal cannabis or drugs." Guidelines define the items (such as "roach clips," which are used to smoke cannabis, "pipes," and "paraphernalia"), the sale of which is required to be licensed. Appellee, which sold a variety of merchandise in its store, including "roach clips" and specially designed pipes used to smoke marihuana, upon being notified that it was in possible violation of the ordinance, brought suit in Federal District Court, claiming that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, and requesting injunctive and declaratory relief and damages. The District Court upheld the ordinance and awarded judgment to the village defendants. The Court of Appeals reversed on the ground that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague on its face.

Held: The ordinance is not facially overbroad or vague, but is reasonably clear in its application to appellee. Pp. 455 U. S. 494-505.

(a) In a facial challenge to the overbreadth and vagueness of an enactment, a court must first determine whether the enactment reaches a substantial amount of constitutionally protected conduct. If it does not, the overbreadth challenge must fail. The court should then examine the facial vagueness challenge and should uphold such challenge only if the enactment is impermissibly vague in all of its applications. Pp. 455 U. S. 494-495.

(b) The ordinance here does not violate appellee's First Amendment rights, nor is it overbroad because it inhibits such rights of other parties. The ordinance does not restrict speech as such, but simply regulates the commercial marketing of items that the labels reveal may be used for an illicit purpose, and thus does not embrace noncommercial speech. With respect to any commercial speech interest implicated, the ordinance's restriction on the manner of marketing does not appreciably limit appellee's communication of information, except to the extent it is directed at commercial activity promoting or encouraging illegal drug use, an activity which, if deemed "speech," is speech proposing an illegal transaction, and thus subject to government regulation or ban. It is irrelevant whether the ordinance has an overbroad scope encompassing other persons' commercial speech, since the overbreadth doctrine does not apply to commercial speech. Pp. 455 U. S. 495-497.

Page 455 U. S. 490

(c) With respect to the facial vagueness challenge, appellee has not shown that the ordinance is impermissibly vague in all of its applications. The ordinance's language "designed . . . for use" is not unconstitutionally vague on its face, since it is clear that such standard encompasses at least an item that is principally used with illegal drugs by virtue of its objective features, i.e., features designed by the manufacturer. Thus, the "designed for use" standard is sufficiently clear to cover at least some of the items that appellee sold, such as "roach clips" and the specially designed pipes. As to the "marketed for use" standard, the guidelines refer to the display of paraphernalia and to the proximity of covered items to otherwise uncovered items, and thus such standard requires scienter on the part of the retailer. Under this test, appellee had ample warning that its marketing activities required a license, and by displaying a certain magazine and certain books dealing with illegal drugs physically close to pipes and colored rolling paper, it was in clear violation of the guidelines, as it was in selling "roach clips." Pp. 455 U. S. 499-503.

(d) The ordinance's language is sufficiently clear that the speculative danger of arbitrary enforcement does not render it void for vagueness in a pre-enforcement facial challenge. Pp. 455 U. S. 503-504.

639 F.2d 373, reversed and remanded.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BRENNAN, BLACKMUN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 455 U. S. 507. STEVENS, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Page 455 U. S. 491

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