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Attorney General Opinion Regarding Illuminated Signs
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox issued an opinion dated January 8, 2004 stating that the Liquor Code, Administrative Rule prohibiting illuminated signs in liquor serving establishments to be unconstitutional according to the First Amendment. The Rule is most associated in the trade with preventing the use of the neon signs as commonly produced by breweries to advertise their products. Neons are used in the liquor serving establishments of most states. Proponents of the current ruling against illuminated signs say the use of neon signs will give unfair advantage to the larger brewers who can afford the expenses associated with this form of advertising. Opponents of the rule say the signs attract business. Citing the use of non-illuminated signs in small venues and the use of the giant illuminated signs in sporting venues as inconsistent, Cox labeled the rule "an impermissible restriction on commercial speech." It is the attorney general's opinion therefore that "Rule 436.1313(1) of the Michigan Liquor Code being PA 58 of 1998, to the extent it prohibits illuminated advertising of alcoholic liquors inside certain licensed retail establishments, violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and article 1, section 5 of the Michigan Constitution." The entire opinion can be found at: www.ag.state.mi.us/opinion/datafiles/2000s/op10222.htm