MORE ARTICLES FROM ‘Advertising and First Amendment’

Advertising & First Amendment overview

“Commercial speech” as a constitutional doctrine — initially (and even today) an exception from the First Amendment’s normal rules — was casually suggested by a U.S. Supreme Court opinion in 1942. Then, in 1976, it was altered substantially when the Court recognized that such a talismanic exemption from the Constitution’s mandates was unsustainable. Later, it [...]


Telemarketing presents a classic clash between privacy and freedom of speech. Many residents believe telemarketing calls invade their privacy. Some business owners counter that telemarketing is a lawful way to inform people about their services, and that regulations violate their First Amendment free-speech rights.
Federal and state legislators have passed numerous laws [...]

FDA labeling

Like many other federal agencies, the Food and Drug Administration has found itself mired in many commercial-speech controversies. Ever since Congress passed the Food and Drugs Act in 1906, the government has possessed the authority to regulate pharmaceuticals.
Controversies involving the FDA usually occur when the manufacturer or retailer of a drug [...]

Gambling ads

Many commercial-speech battles occur when the government seeks to regulate the advertising of harmful or “vice” products or activities such as tobacco, alcohol or gambling. Many states forbid gambling, while others permit it in the form of a lottery or casino gaming. In order to lessen the negative effects of gambling, [...]

Compelled advertising

What do California tree fruits, mushrooms, alligators, milk, almonds, avocados and beef have in common? The answer is that they all have been the subject of First Amendment disputes over compelled commercial speech.
An intriguing free-speech issue arises when the government forces producers of various products to fund group-based advertising. Food producers and [...]

Attorney ads

Attorney ads are everywhere, featured on television, the Yellow Pages, direct-mail solicitation letters, billboards, Web sites, and the backs of bus-stop benches. They flood the marketplace, informing consumers of their choices of legal counsel. “Protect Your Rights,” “We’ll Fight for You,” and “Don’t Settle for Less” have become familiar refrains.
Such was [...]


Billboards represent a unique method of advertising that presents unusual problems for many city planners. These large, eye-catching signs are eyesores to some who contend they harm traffic safety and cause visual blight. Government officials and groups such as Scenic America regularly claim billboards damage both aesthetics and traffic safety. Scenic [...]

Tobacco ads

Government officials continue to wage war on tobacco advertising. The Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and other federal and state regulators have targeted tobacco manufacturers, accusing them of marketing to minors and restricting what the companies can say in their advertising.
The regulators cite scientific studies showing that tobacco is [...]