Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Muzzled speech on taxes: Airlines object to rules on price listings

By George Will



JewishWorldReview.com | “The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.”

— James Madison, Federalist 48

But under today’s regulatory state, which Madison could hardly have imagined, the legislature, although still a source of much mischief, is not the principal threat to liberty. Suppose a federal executive department flagrantly abused its regulatory powers for the unmistakable purpose of suppressing truthful speech that annoys the government. If you assume the Supreme Court would rectify this assault on the First Amendment’s core protection, you would be mistaken.

The government has done this, and the court has declined to do its duty to enforce constitutional limits. Herewith an illustration of why conservatives must abandon their imprecise opposition to “judicial activism” and advocate for more vigorous judicial engagement in protecting liberty from the vortex of the regulatory state.

Spirit, Allegiant and Southwest are low-cost carriers that have thrived since the deregulation of the airline industry, which began in 1978. The government retains a narrow authority to prevent deceptive advertising practices. But as the airlines argued in petitioning the Supreme Court to hear their case, the government is micromanaging their speech merely to prevent the public from understanding the government’s tax burdens.

The government’s total price rule forbids the airlines from calling attention to the tax component of the price of a ticket by listing the price the airline charges and then the tax component with equal prominence. The rule mandates that any listing of the tax portion of a ticket’s price “not be displayed prominently and be presented in significantly smaller type than the listing of the total price.” The government is trying to prevent people from clearly seeing the burdens of government.

These three low-cost carriers compete for the most price-conscious travelers, and they want to tell those travelers which portion of a ticket’s cost the airlines control. The government, far from regulating to prevent customer confusion, is trying to prevent customers from understanding the taxes and fees that comprise approximately 20 percent of the average airline ticket.

Timothy Sandefur, of the public-interest, limited-government Pacific Legal Foundation, notes that decades ago the Supreme Court, without justification in the Constitution’s text, structure or history, created a binary First Amendment. So today the amendment gives different degrees of protection to two kinds of speech — strong protection to political speech, minimal protection to commercial speech.

The court has never clearly defined the latter but has suggested that commercial speech proposes a commercial transaction between the speaker and the audience. And the court has held that freedom of commercial speech cannot be abridged if the speech is neither false nor deceptive and if it is not related to an illegal activity.

Note two things. The airlines’ speech the government is regulating with the total price rule would be protected even if it were just commercial speech. And it actually is political speech: It calls its audience’s attention to, and invites disapproval of, government policy.


RECEIVE LIBERTY LOVING COLUMNISTS IN YOUR INBOX … FOR FREE!

Every weekday NewsAndOpinion.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.

In permitting the government’s regulation of this speech, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held, 2 to 1, that the total price rule “does not prohibit airlines from saying anything; it just requires them to disclose the total, final price and to make it the most prominent figure in their advertisements.” But this ignores the government’s obvious purpose of preventing the airlines from drawing attention to the government’s exactions.

In their brief asking the Supreme Court to reverse the D.C. Circuit’s decision, the airlines noted that the government is forbidding them to do what virtually every American industry does — advertise the pre-tax price of their products. Shirts and shoes and salamis are sold with the pre-tax sum on the price tag.

D.C. Circuit Judge A. Raymond Randolph, dissenting from the court’s permission of this unauthorized and indefensible regulation, asked: How can the government’s supposed interest in consumers having “accurate” information be served by requiring “significantly smaller” typefaces for taxes and fees that make up a larger share of the prices of the low-cost airlines than of the older airlines? Randolph said the government’s purpose is “to control and to muffle speakers who are critical of the government.”

Government is violating one of the natural rights that the Founders said government is “instituted” (the Declaration’s word) to protect. This episode confirms conservatism’s premise that today’s government is guilty of shabby behavior until proven innocent. And conservatives enable such behavior when their unreflective denunciations of judicial “activism” encourage excessive judicial deference toward the modern executive’s impetuous vortex.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

George Will's latest book is "With a Happy Eye but: America and the World, 1997-2002" to purchase a copy, click here. Comment on this column by clicking here.

Archives

© 2012 WPWG

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles

QUANTCAST