Ninth Circuit Strikes Down San Francisco Soda Warnings

In an en banc decision late last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a San Francisco ordinance requiring ads for sugar-sweetened beverages to warn of the link between overconsumption and obesity violates the First Amendment.

The decision indicates that the Supreme Court's decision last term in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, which struck down California's disclosure requirements applicable to clinics that offer some pregnancy-related services but not others, is likely to have significant effects on cases involving more traditional commercial speech disclosure requirements.

Although the Ninth Circuit stated that Becerra did not change the law applicable to commercial speech disclosure requirements, the court held that the decision did require it to strike down San Francisco's requirements as unduly burdensome.

The decision is likely to prompt more challenges to government mandated health and safety warnings benefiting consumers.

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