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.