Commercial speech is a category of speech under the First Amendment, which includes a lot of the speech in commercial life—such as TV and internet advertisements and product packaging. The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, including the freedom of commercial speech, but one fascinating thing is that it does not protect all activities that we might call speech in ordinary language. And it does not protect all speech in the same way. The First Amendment, the Supreme Court has said, protects commercial speech because of its value to the consuming public—both so that they can make well-informed economic decisions, but also so they can form intelligent opinions about how our economic system ought to be regulated or altered. Commercial speech, in other words, is protected because of its value to the public as listeners.
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