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Railway Express Agency, Inc v. New York

Citation. 336 U.S. 106, 69 S. Ct. 463, 93 L. Ed. 533, 1949 U.S.
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Appellant, Railway Express Agency (Appellant), sells advertising space on the side of its trucks. The Appellee, New York (Appellee), recently passed a law forbidding advertising vehicles when the advertisements were not related to the business of the vehicle.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Even a law that appears to be too narrowly drawn will survive rational basis review because complete deference is given to the state for its reasoning.


Appellant operates about 1,900 delivery trucks in New York City. To increase revenue, Appellant sold the use of the sides of the truck as advertising billboards to its clients. Appellee passed a law specifically prohibiting such advertising unless it was connected to the business of the vehicle.


By classifying the types of advertisements on vehicles, has the Appellee violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution (Constitution)?


No. This classification has a relation to the purpose for which it was made and does not contain the kind of discrimination against which the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution protects.
Concurrence. The burden of showing unreasonableness should always be on the person questioning the regulation.


The majority describes this law as being narrowly construed to target a particular group of advertisers. This classification is proper because the law is on an evolutionary path and may be refined later to include a larger population of advertisers and vehicle operators.

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