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Vermont Free Speech Case Before U.S. Supreme Court: VT Law School Expert Available to Comment

April 21, 2011

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT -- Vermont Law School Professor Cheryl Hanna is available to comment on Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc., a free speech case from Vermont that will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 26. Hanna, a Constitutional law expert, and 10 students from her Constitutional Law class will travel to Washington, D.C., to attend the arguments.Image of Cheryl Hanna

"The question before the Court is whether Vermont can require market research firms, or ‘data miners,' to get doctors' permission before selling their prescribing history to drug companies," Hanna said. "Drug companies use this information to tailor their marketing efforts to individual doctors. This practice is called ‘detailing.' This case is extremely important as it pits the privacy interests we all have in protecting the commercial use of our personal information against the free speech rights of companies to provide accurate and non-misleading information to consumers. In recent cases, including Citizens United and Westboro Baptist Church, the Court has preferred free speech to government regulation. Vermont's law is one of many nationwide that has attempted to restrict the use of data mining. What happens in IMS Health will have significant implications for free speech rights for corporations and data mining companies as well as for consumers."

Hanna's Constitutional Law class has used Sorrell v. IMS Health to study the commercial speech doctrine and to work with the Vermont Attorney General to host a moot court of the case at Vermont Law School.

Hanna can be reached at 802.233.8818 (cell) and channa@vermontlaw.edu

Read more about Sorrell v. IMS Health.

CONTACT: John Cramer, Associate Director of Media Relations
Office: 802.831.1106, cell: 540.798.7099, jcramer@vermontlaw.edu

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