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Bates v. State Bar of Arizona

Significance, Commercial Speech Doctrine Extended To Lawyer Advertising, Advertising Lawyers, Further Readings


John R. Bates, Van O'Steen


State Bar of Arizona

Appellants' Claim

That state rules prohibiting lawyers from advertising violate the Sherman Antitrust Act by restraining trade, and violate the First Amendment by inhibiting free speech.

Chief Lawyer for Appellants

William C. Canby, Jr.

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

John P. Frank

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun (writing for the Court), William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Jr., John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Warren E. Burger, Lewis F. Powell, William H. Rehnquist, Potter Stewart


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

27 June 1977


Although the U.S. Supreme Court disregarded the petitioner's antitrust claim, citing their right of free speech, as well as the public's right to receive their message concerning competitive legal fees, the Court ruled in favor of lawyers John Bates and Van O'Steen.

Related Cases

  • Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar, 421 U.S. 773 (1975).
  • Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748 (1976).
  • Ohralik v. Ohio Bar Association, 436 U.S. 447 (1978).


American Bar Association, Lawyer Advertising at the Crossroads: Professional Policy Considerations. Chicago: American Bar Association, Commission on Advertising, 1995.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980