Compelled Disclosures

76 Pages Posted: 1 May 2013 Last revised: 17 Jul 2014

Date Written: July 7, 2014


Courts have faced a wave of compelled disclosure cases recently. By government mandate, tobacco manufacturers must include graphic warnings on their cigarette packages, doctors must show and describe ultrasound images of fetuses to women seeking to abort them, and crisis pregnancy centers must disclose that they do not provide contraception or abortion services. Although applying the same compelled speech doctrine to similar issues, appeals courts have reached very different results in challenges to these laws. Drawing from First Amendment theory, this Article first identifies why compelled disclosures undermine free speech values. It then applies those insights to the specific examples above. In doing so, it examines not only compelled text but the new phenomenon of compelled images, particularly compelled images designed to provoke an emotional response. The Article concludes that court decisions often have it backwards: It is mandatory abortion counseling laws that offend free speech principles, not laws requiring cigarette warnings or crisis pregnancy center disclosures.

Keywords: First Amendment, free speech, compelled speech, commercial speech, corporations, abortion, ultrasounds, crisis pregnancy centers, tobacco, law and emotion, heuristics

Suggested Citation

Corbin, Caroline Mala, Compelled Disclosures (July 7, 2014). 65 Alabama Law Review 1277 (2014) , Available at SSRN:

Caroline Mala Corbin (Contact Author)

University of Miami School of Law ( email )

1311 Miller Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States

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