Free Speech -- 2019

American Beverage Association v. City of San Francisco   (9th Circuit)

Compelled speech for food and beverage advertising

In 2015, the City of San Francisco enacted an ordinance that requires large warnings on advertisements for certain beverages containing added sugar. The warnings declare that "Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay." Groups representing the affected industries sued in federal court to enjoin the ordinance. They lost at the trial level but won on their initial appeal. The city is now seeking a further appeal to the full United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The legal issues in this case will have far-reaching implications for manufacturers. If governments like San Francisco’s can force manufacturers to speak out against the very products they create or compel companies to spread controversial messages on their products or advertising, companies’ voices could be silenced, and their business harmed. The NAM filed an amicus brief in support of the beverage companies that fights back against the city’s ordinance and the larger problem of regulation through compelled speech. Our brief explains how the ordinance violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by impermissibly compelling commercial speech. On February 1, 2019, the court ruled for the plaintiff on its free speech claims.

Related Documents:
NAM brief  (March 5, 2018)


© 2019 National Association of Manufacturers