On Commercial - and Corporate - Speech
59 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2014 Last revised: 26 Sep 2018
Date Written: October 31, 2014
Government, the Supreme Court has told us, has a lot of freedom to regulate commercial advertising on the ground that it’s false or misleading, but almost none to restrict its content on any other ground. That distinction isn’t justifiable; it never has been. But it relates to a parallel tension in the law’s treatment of speech by for-profit corporations. Both the law of commercial speech and the law of corporate speech are riven, rooted in foundational contradictions between the libertarian principles bound up in conventional first amendment philosophy and an alternative approach recognizing the ways private power distorts public discourse. Nuanced understanding of what commercial speech and corporate speech have in common, and what they are not, supports the conclusion that the Supreme Court is taking the law of commercial speech in the wrong direction.
Keywords: commercial speech, false advertising, corporate speech, corporate personhood, citizens united
JEL Classification: K23, K32, M37
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation