Spirit Airlines v. U.S. DOT

Date: January 02, 2013

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently promulgated a regulation to prevent companies from highlighting taxes paid on airline tickets when advertising airfares. Under the new regulation, the total fee for a ticket (including taxes) must be the most prominent figure displayed. In other words, the company cannot highlight the taxes in the same size as the total price. But, his raises freedom of speech issues under the First Amendment. Indeed, the companies argue that they are exercising political speech in highlighting the taxes.

NFIB Legal Center has filed in this case to encourage the Supreme Court to reconsider its deferential stance on the regulation of commercial speech. As we point out in our brief to the Court, commercial speech should be entitled to stronger protections than the court has previously recognized. In our view, we should not treat commercial actors as second-class citizens; truthful commercial speech should be afforded the same level of protection as non-commercial speech. This should be especially true in the context of a business' attempt to protest taxes, for which the consumer might be ignorant.

Status:  Pending - U.S. Supreme Court.

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