Taking the right of freedom of commerical communication seriously

Journal of Business Ethics 11 (1):47 - 59 (1992)
Abstract
Recent Supreme Court decisions have established second tier protection for commercial speech under the First Amendment by according it some, but not all, of the protections accorded ideological speech. The Court''s arguments closely parallel John Staurt Mill''s utilitarian arguments about liberty, liberty-limiting principles and trade in his classic essay,On Liberty, and hence are subject to the same defects as any utilitarian analysis and justification of a right. Recent philosophical apologies for the Court''s bifurcated approach to free speech are unpersuasive. Commercial speech protects fundamental interests. There are important connections between freedom of commercial speech and political and personal autonomy. It is possible to extend full protection to commercial speech, while simultaneously minimizing its potential for abuse. Such considerations provide compelling arguments for taking the right to freedom of commercial communication seriously by according it full First Amendment protection and by restricting it only when competing and over-riding rights claims, or weightier considerations of justice, can be adduced.
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