First Amendment Does Not Prohibit Restrictions on Brothel Advertising


The Las Vegas Sun reports that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Nevada law restricting advertising for brothels. The law was challenged under the First Amendment for violating the right to free speech.

The Nevada law prohibits brothels from advertising in any county where the sale of sexual services is prohibited by state law or local ordinance. The law also limits advertising in counties where brothels are legal: advertisements are prohibited in public theaters, on the public streets of any city or town, or on any public highway.

The court found that the law targets pure commercial speech, which enjoys less protection under the First Amendment than other types of speech. The court held that the restrictions imposed by the law are constitutional, because they "attain a reasonable fit between ends and means."

The court stated, "By keeping brothel advertising out of public places where it would reach residents who do not seek it out, but permitting other forms of advertising likely to reach those already interested in patronizing the brothels, Nevada strikes a balance between its interest in maintaining economically viable, legal regulated brothels and its interest in severely limiting the commoditization of sex."