The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a case that will determine whether Nike can be sued for statements in which they denied the use of child labor and substandard wages in sweatshops in Asia. Nike countered that these statements are protected as free speech under the First Amendment.
The case involves a massive public relations campaign by Nike after activists launched boycotts and public information campaigns about Nike’s use of Asian sweatshops in the mid-1990s. Marc Kasky, a San Francisco-based activist, filed a lawsuit against Nike in 1998 charging that the company’s claims amounted to false advertising - though not in the traditional sense because the claims were not directly about Nike’s product. Rather, Kasky argues that Nike violated a California law that requires corporations to truthfully disclose how their products are produced, according to Carl Mayer, a lawyer who submitted an amicus brief in the case opposing Nike.
Kasky’s case was sent to the US Supreme Court after California’s Supreme Court narrowly ruled last May that Nike could be liable for false public claims about working conditions in its factories abroad, according to the Christian Science Monitor. With the Bush administration on its side, Nike is arguing that because the statements were not produced in formal advertisements they are protected as free speech, according to the Guardian.
If the Supreme Court sides with Kasky, his case will go back to trial to determine whether Nike did indeed make false claims about its business practices, the Los Angeles Times reports. Global Exchange, a San Francisco-based social justice organization, reports that Nike sweatshop workers, many of whom are women, are paid substandard wages, are not allowed to organize independent unions, and often face health and safety hazards.
“This case is extremely important, because the court has never really tackled the difficult issue of how you draw the line between commercial speech … and what we think of as traditional First Amendment expression,” explained Ann Brick, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California, according to the Monitor. The majority of justices on the California Supreme Court decided that Nike’s speech was commercial, because it was “likely to influence consumers in their commercial decisions,” according to the Washington Post.
Media Resources: Washington Post 4/24/03; Christian Science Monitor 4/23/03; LA Times 4/24/03; Common Dreams 4/21/03; The Guardian 4/23/03
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .