Commercial Speech

AP US Government and Politics


  1. What do you think commercial speech means?

  2. Use commercial speech in a sentence that might just be the best darned speech in the history of the world.

  3. Think of an example of commercial speech in current events:

  4. Find an image of commercial speech.

Fun Fact


Commercial speech: Advertisements and commercials for products and services; they receive less First Amendment protection, primarily to discourage false and misleading ads. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “political speech”—speech that deals with issues of public interest or social concern—is entitled to full protection under the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It may be limited by government only rarely and under very limited circumstances.  “Commercial speech,” however, is given much less protection.  It may be regulated by the government in cases where “political speech” would be protected.


The phrase "commercial speech" came from a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1942 when the owner of a World War I-vintage submarine sued the City of New York over a statute that forbade him to pass out flyers advertising tours of his boat.  The high court labeled the flyers “purely commercial,” even though they had an editorial on one side complaining about city policies.  The term “commercial speech” refers to speech—printed, broadcast or on the Internet—that advertises a product or service.


Strip Club Stiletto Digs In Heels Over BYOB Ad Ban


AP US Government and Politics



  1. How does commercial speech differ from political speech?

  2. If commercial speech was given the same protection as political speech could you outlaw false advertising?

  3. Do you think that commercial speech should be protected like political speech?

  4. What is the stupidest commercial speech (dumbest ad) you ever heard?

  5. Should Burger King commercials really be allowed to exist?