Commercial Speech

Institute for Justice Defends Free Speech for Entrepreneurs

Getting the word out is crucial for any business.  And consumers benefit from hearing about the products and services entrepreneurs offer them.  Unfortunately, cities and states stand in the way of that mutually beneficial exchange of truthful information. The First Amendment, though, protects commercial speech, and the Institute for Justice fights on behalf of entrepreneurs to uphold the deeply American values of free expression and free enterprise.

  • We have won 10 cases defending the free speech rights of small business owners, ranging from gym owners to interior designers.  One of these cases was an important federal victory striking down a ban on portable signs. This victory allowed IJ client Dennis Ballen to grow his business, Blazing Bagels, from relative obscurity to a Seattle-area phenomenon.

The First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . . .” But the U.S. Supreme Court has given short shrift to the speech of entrepreneurs by ruling that commercial speech can be treated more harshly than other forms of expression. As a result, courts too often uphold these kinds of speech restrictions even where there is no evidence that either a problem exists or that the government’s attempts at censorship would correct it.

It is time to end this artificial divide. Through our litigation, activism and strategic research, we seek to ensure that the First Amendment applies equally to all speakers and all messages, whether they are commercial or noncommercial, and that the government must always justify its attempts to keep consumers in the dark.

Recent Cases

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