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Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748 (1976).

The first amendment of the Constitution provides that "Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech ... . This restriction on legislative power applies to the state legislature as well as the United States Congress due to the adoption of the fourteenth amendment and subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States interpreting the first and fourteenth amendments. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court, as the final interpreter of the Constitution, has been unwilling to give the force of law to the plain meaning of the above quoted language of the first amendment. The Court has consistently held that Congress or the states may abridge the freedom of speech if certain types of speech are involved.

Until Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., one such unprotected type of speech was "purely commercial advertising" or "commercial speech" as it was later identified. Although it was not stated explicitly in any of the cases, the thought behind the exception seems to have been that the first and fourteenth amendments protected speech in the marketplace of ideas, especially if the idea was political or religious, but in the marketplace of products or services, the Constitution imposed no restrictions on either federal or state government in respect to purely commercial advertising. As a result, these governments were free to regulate or prohibit commercial speech in almost any manner.

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