Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. Public Utilities Commission
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|Pacific Gas & Electric v. Public Utilities Commission|
|Argued October 8, 1985|
Decided February 25, 1986
|Full case name||Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. Public Utilities Commission of California et al.|
|Citations||475 U.S. 1 (more)|
|A private publisher cannot be forced to carry messages inconsistent with its views.|
|Plurality||Powell, joined by Burger, Brennan, O'Connor|
|Concurrence||Marshall (in judgment)|
|Dissent||Rehnquist, joined by White, Stevens (part I only)|
|Blackmun took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.|
|U.S. Const. amend. I|
Pacific Gas & Electric v. Public Utilities Commission, 475 U.S. 1 (1986), was a United States Supreme Court case involving the requirement that San Francisco-based public utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company carry a message supplied by a public interest group in rebuttal to the messages the utility supplied in its newsletter which it placed in its billing envelope.
The rationale used by the regulatory agency was that the space in the billing envelope which could have material added that did not increase postage belonged to the ratepayers rather than the utility; thus the commission could order the utility to allow other groups to use that space subject to restrictions.
The U.S. Supreme Court found the order of the California Public Utilities Commission to be unconstitutional, as the right to speak includes the right not to carry messages one disagrees with. As the court stated, "the choice to speak includes within it the choice of what not to say."
This is one of the cases which has essentially granted, with very limited exceptions, the absolute right of a publisher to choose not to carry messages it does not agree with.
- Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (1983)
- Travelers Casualty & Surety Co. of America v. Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. (2007)
- List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 475
- Text of Pacific Gas & Electric v. Public Utilities Commission, 475 U.S. 1 (1986) is available from: Justia Library of Congress Oyez (oral argument audio)
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