Skip to Content

Commercial speech

« Back to Glossary Index

– **In the United States**:
– Commercial speech is entitled to substantial First Amendment protection.
– The U.S. Supreme Court developed a four-part test in Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission to assess commercial speech regulation.
– The test includes criteria like whether the speech concerns lawful activity and is not misleading.
– The government’s interest must be substantial, and the regulation should directly advance that interest.
– The regulation should not be more extensive than necessary to serve the interest.

– **History**:
– Until the 1976 case Virginia State Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, commercial speech was considered unprotected.
– The concept of commercial speech was introduced in 1942 in Valentine v. Chrestensen.
– Bigelow v. Virginia (1975) overturned the precedent set in 1942.
– The commercial speech doctrine was formulated in the 1976 Virginia State Pharmacy Board ruling.
– The Supreme Court has recognized commercial speech under the First Amendment, providing it with protection.

– **Criticism**:
– Justice Clarence Thomas questioned the differential treatment of commercial speech.
– Justice Antonin Scalia criticized the Central Hudson test.
– U.S. Court of Appeals judge Alex Kozinski criticized the 1942 Valentine v. Chrestensen ruling.

– **In the European Union**:
– The European Court of Human Rights protects commercial speech under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Germany has strict rules on advertising and commercial speech to ensure fair competition.
– Significant cases in European law include Barthold v. Germany and Markt Intern Verlag GmbH v. Germany.

– **In South Africa**:
– Commercial speech falls under freedom of expression in South Africa.

Commercial speech (Wikipedia)

In law, commercial speech is speech or writing on behalf of a business with the intent of earning revenue or a profit. It is economic in nature and usually attempts to persuade consumers to purchase the business's product or service. The Supreme Court of the United States defines commercial speech as speech that "proposes a commercial transaction".

« Back to Glossary Index