Even major magazines like Forbes and Vogue are often more than 50 percent advertising. Based on Seattle’s stance in court, such high advertising content could have placed these magazines over a threshold where they would be subject to government regulation.
Fortunately, the court could not find “a principled reason to treat telephone directories differently from newspapers, magazines, television programs, radio shows, and similar media that does not turn on an evaluation of their contents.”
The Ninth Circuit should be applauded for rejecting Seattle’s program of speech restrictions. If First Amendment guarantees are not applied fairly and uniformly, governments could too easily characterize unfavorable speech as “commercial” and subject it to myriad restrictions.
Election-season excesses aside, freedom of speech and freedom of the press are worth defending.
William J. Watkins, Jr. is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute (independent.org), Oakland, CA, and author of the book, “Reclaiming the American Revolution.”