San Francisco law requiring warnings in sugary-drink ads struck down

“A federal appeals court on Thursday blocked a San Francisco law requiring health warnings on advertisements for soda and other sugary drinks in a victory for beverage and retail groups that sued to block the ordinance.” The ruling, by a unanimous 11-member en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit, found that thelaw violates First Amendment rights of commercial speech. [AP/BakersfieldNow; American Beverage Association v. City and County of San Francisco]


  • When some do-gooder legislation like this cannot garner a single vote on a Ninth Circuit en banc panel, you know there’s a problem.

  • A bit misleading to call the en banc ruling unanimous. They were unanimous as to the result, but bitterly divided as to the reasoning, with Sandra Ikuta particularly condemnatory of the majority’s fast-and-loose attitude to recent Supreme Court precedent. Given that Ikuta seems to have a direct line to the Supreme Court (they keep referencing her dissents when they overturn the 9th) this precedent may not endure long.

    • Fair enough, but it seems likely that it will take some other future case (perhaps if SF re-enacts its ordinance to make it less aggressive) for the high court to review such fast-and-loosery. I find it hard to believe that the city would seek certiorari over this loss and thus invite a considerably more damaging rebuke at the high court.

    • I don’t think it’s fair to call the post misleading. After all, judgments, not opinions are what count. And here, no matter the reason, 11 judges of the Ninth Circuit said no to some do-gooder regulation.–that’s remarkable.

      I agree with Mr. Olson’s assessment—that there will be appeal, and they’ll just dial it back a bit.

      SF does, in my opinion, have the power, notwithstanding the First Amendment, to require warning labels on “sugary” drinks. And I don’t know that they have to be consistent, i.e., not requiring it on orange juice, but requiring it on Coca-Cola.

      The problem, ultimately, is that SF doesn’t seem to care that there is a First Amendment. Whether that justifies courts’ taking a more skeptical eye at regulation is a knotty question.