Commercial Speech in the United States 1900–76

Roger A. Shiner

in Freedom of Commercial Expression

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780198262619
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682353 | DOI:
Commercial Speech in the United States 1900–76

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This chapter examines the institutional history of constitutional protection for freedom of expression in the United States from 1900 to 1976. The discussion includes the landmark case of Virginia Board. In the United States, constitutional protection for freedom of speech is based on the First Amendment to the U.S. constitution, which came into force in 1791, four years after the constitution itself. The image of a ‘free trade in’ or ‘market-place of’ ideas is not a jurisprudentially innocent image, and its deceptiveness is discussed in this chapter. The power of the image undoubtedly plays a part in the eventual development of the commercial speech doctrine. Two court cases are presented, each of which highlights the occurrence of speech in association with other forceful freedom of speech values. The U.S. Supreme Court was very conscious in considering ‘pure’ commercial speech that it was facing an analytically new issue, and rightly so. Another case, Pittsburgh, deals with issues of sex discrimination in employment involving newspaper advertisements.

Keywords: United States; constitutional protection; freedom of expression; constitution; commercial speech; court cases; Supreme Court; freedom of speech; advertisements; sex discrimination

Chapter.  13667 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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