Nike Has a Right to Free Speech
By Robert Garmong (El Conquistador, July 3, 2003)
In refusing to rule on the Nike case, the Supreme Court struck a heavy blow against freedom of speech.
The case involved Nike's attempts, in letters to editors and to university administrators, to counter charges that their overseas workers are abused. A critic, claiming that Nike's claims were false advertising, filed suit.
But Nike's letters deserve first-amendment protection. They were not advertisements--they addressed only the question of working conditions in its factories, saying nothing about its products. If such letters can be ruled a form of advertising, then anything said by any corporation about any aspect of its operations may expose it to crippling false-advertising lawsuits. Meanwhile the critics of corporations, whose speech is protected, can invent outright lies with no penalty.
By refusing to rule on this blatant violation of free speech, the Court officially declared open season on business.