ERIC Number: ED203365
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Unmuzzling America's Corporations: Corporate Speech and the First Amendment.
Under the "commercial speech doctrine," corporations were restricted for many years from speaking out on public issues or engaging in certain advertising practices. This "doctrine" was based on a case from the 1940s, in which the court ruled that purely commercial advertising had no constitutional protection from government restraint. Since 1975, however, the Supreme Court has repeatedly expanded the First Amendment protection accorded to "commercial speech." The early decisions focused on the rights of individual consumers to receive information on controversial products and services. Subsequent rulings permitted advertising for prescription drugs and professional and legal services. In 1978, the Court specifically affirmed the right of corporations to speak out on controversial public issues and set down strict guidelines to be used in evaluating any state law or regulation used to restrict corporate freedom of speech. In three rulings, the court recognized the difference between purely commercial speech such as advertising and noncommercial corporate speech such as that used by public relations practitioners. It may still, however, require years of additional court decisions to clearly spell out the rights of corporations under the new rules. (HTH)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - General; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Corporations; First Amendment; Supreme Court
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (64th, East Lansing, MI, August 8-11, 1981).