Monday, July 07, 2003

Free Speech: Washington Times Supports Nike Ruling, Denies Logic

I'm at a loss to explain it, but the Washington Times argues that the US Supreme Court's decision in the Nike commercial speech case was a victory for free speech. I sent them the following letter:

Contrary to The Washington Times position that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Nike commercial-free speech case was a positive decision ("Court gets it right on Nike," Editorial, yesterday), the court's decision was a setback for free speech. In an amicus brief to the court, my organization argued that allowing California anti-globalization activist Marc Kasky's lawsuit against Nike to proceed was a violation of the right of free speech of Nike's shareholders and employees.

Yet, rather than address Mr. Kasky's challenge to free speech directly, the court decided to send the Nike case back to California for trial, even as it admitted that a ruling against Nike would not likely be sustained on appeal. In a victory for anti-corporate crusaders, the court's decision to allow a trial means that at least for now, the right of a corporation to speak in its economic interest is in peril. Yet, just like political speech, which the court protects, economic speech is equally essential to the success of an individual's life. The Constitution should not be interpreted to uphold the sanctity of an individual's right to speak on issues affecting his political interests while simultaneously damning him when he speaks in order to advance his trade.

Until the Supreme Court recognizes the relationship between economic motives, individual rights and the Constitution's protection of all non-fraudulent and non-defamatory speech, whether private or commercial, the threat to free speech remains active. The court had an opportunity to set the record straight. It failed. Rather than be praised for its decision in the Nike case, the court ought to be condemned.
Update: The Times ran my letter in today's edition.

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