- Pacific Gas & Electric v. Public Utilities Commission
Litigants=Pacific Gas & Electric v. Public Utilities Commission
FullName=Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. Public Utilities Commission of California et al.
Holding=A private publisher cannot be forced to carry messages inconsistent with his or her views.
JoinMajority=Burger, Brennan, O'Connor
Concurrence2=Marshall (in the judgement of the court only)
JoinDissent=White and Stevens (Part I only)
"Pacific Gas & Electric v. Public Utilities Commission", 475 U.S. 1 (1986), was a court case involving the requirement that
San Francisco-based public utility Pacific Gas and Electric Companycarry a message supplied by a public interest group in rebuttalto 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 Commissionrequirement 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 provided that, with extremely limited exceptions, the essentially absolute right of a publisher to choose not to carry messages it does not agree with.
List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 475
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