San Francisco Sued Over 1st Amendment Violations

With new laws in San Francisco raising concerns about the 1st amendment and food freedom, many people are understandably angry, culminating in a lawsuit against the city. According to Reason:

On Friday, three groups sued San Francisco to overturn a terrible new city ordinance that restricts the free-speech rights of those who make and market sweetened drinks like soda. The plaintiffs, the American Beverage Association, California Retailers Association, and California State Outdoor Advertising Association, are seeking immediate injunctive relief—to prevent the law from taking effect—and have asked the District Court to overturn the law.

The ordinance, which I discussed at various outlets shortly after it was proposed, requires mandatory warning labels to appear on all soda ads in the city, including those on billboards. The law requires that at least 20 percent of each ad’s space read as follows: “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.”

That warning is shaky at best. “Mandatory ‘added sugar’ labeling may violate the First Amendment,” I wrote here  in March, before the San Francisco law had been proposed. “Use of the term ‘added sugar’ is misleading, as it creates a deceptive health halo around products like orange juice and apple juice, which are high in naturally occurring sugar but contain no added sugar.”

While the ordinance compels that warning, it also contains a host of equally shocking restrictions on free speech. For example, the law would prohibit soda makers from identifying the products they sell while protesting against the law on public space. It bars ads advertising soda, Frappuccinos, or some Jamba juices on public property—including buses, parks, and bus stops—but allows, notably, ads attacking such drinks. It also engages in other forms of viewpoint discrimination. It contains vague and undefined terms, including “producing sugar-sweetened beverages.” Those restrictions, the compelled speech, and other clear violations of bedrock First Amendment principles forced the American Beverage Association and its fellow plaintiffs to sue.

What do you think? Is it understandable for the government to restrict the speech of some organizations to protect consumers or it a clear breech in human rights?

Source: Reason



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