9th Circuit Reverses on Expanded Protection for Commercial Speech

Early last year, the 9th Circuit made an intriguing ruling: that commercial speech regulation required an even higher showing of necessity than that long-recognized by the “intermediate scrutiny” standard. ¬†Unfortunately, in an en banc opinion this week, the court reversed its decision in RDN v. Appelsmith.¬†

That’s a shame, because there’s been a lot of noise that the commercial speech doctrine could use some freshening up and additional protection from overreaching regulation. And while the appellants here have vowed to take this case to the Supreme Court, the odds of getting that kind of review are always very long.

Unless SCOTUS wants to use this case to deal with the increasingly-large pit of vagueness in the commercial speech doctrine that is compelled speech. Is compelled speech subject only to rational basis review? Something more? Or are all speech requirements – compulsions and restrictions alike – subject to the same test of constitutional validity? A test perhaps more demanding than that laid out by Central Hudson?

Here’s hoping the Supreme Court decides to give us an answer.

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