Friday, July 02, 2010

Pennsylvania Ban on Blasphemous Business Names Struck Down

In Kalman v. Cortez, (ED PA, June 30, 2010), a Pennsylvania federal district court struck down a Pennsylvania statute (15 Pa. Consol. Stat. 1303(c)(2)(ii)) that prohibits corporate names from containing "[w]ords that constitute blasphemy, profane cursing or swearing or that profane the Lord's name." The Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau rejected plaintiff's certificate of organization for an LLC that would operate under the name "I Choose Hell Productions LLC". Subsequently the Bureau permitted him to instead use the name "ICH Productions LLC". The court concluded that Pennsylvania's blasphemy statute violates the Establishment Clause, failing all three prongs of the Lemon test. It also held that the law infringes free speech rights as a viewpoint-based restriction, and is invalid under the Central Hudson case even if corporate names are considered commercial speech. Yesterday's Legal Intelligencer reported on the decision. [Thanks to James Maule via Religionlaw for the lead.]