Concept Week 11

Right to free speech: Difference between protections for political vs. commercial speech

By: Shelby Schroeder

The First Amendment of our Constitution protects the freedom of speech.  However, it protects some types of speech more than others. Political speech is the ability for Americans to discuss things about politics.  You can criticize the government and their policies as much as you want, and you won’t get in trouble (as long as you aren’t telling lies or threatening anyone).  This form of speech is the most highly protected by the first amendment, mostly because it is the most expressive and important to our functioning nation. Commercial speech, like advertising is not as highly protected because it is based on PROFIT and is not expressive. It is based on a company or individual trying to persuade someone to buy a product. 

Example: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-07/mcgraw-hill-must-face-illinois-suit-over-s-and-p-ratings (From Businessweek)

Example explained: McGraw Hill Company is facing a lawsuit from lawyer accusing them of having a “fraudulent role’” in assigning improperly high ratings to mortgage-backed securities. The judges rejected the company when they said their rating opinions were protected under the first amendment freedom of speech rights.  The lawyer further stated that while commercial speech has some protection under the First Amendment, false, misleading, or deceptive commercial speech is not.  This just shows an example of the problems that can arise when determining how much commercial speech is protected in the First Amendment.

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2 thoughts on “Concept Week 11

  1. Shelby, I thought your definition was well thought out and well written. In both of our definitions we were clear to say that political speech is more protected then commercial speech. We even gave the same reasons for why this was the case. About two-thirds of your definition was related to political speech, which is essential for our country (which I also said!). Where in my definition my two-thirds was devoted to the commercial. I would have to say that our definition really compliment each other. I also enjoyed your example which really was a great example of how commercial speech may or may not be protected in the First Amendment. Great job this week. Marina

  2. Shelby,
    I like how when you explained the concept you kept political and commercial speech separate. I tried to make a somewhat clear extinction but I think your post was more clear. I thought that was a good job on your part. I also like how you stressed how important political speech is compared to commercial speech. I did not make that expression as I just described the restrictions on both instead. I also like the reference to the first amendment and how the first amendment may protect some forms of speech more than others. I thought you did a good job! God bless!

    Austin M.

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