South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Producers Cannot Be Compelled to Pay for Advertising Campaign
Description Appeals court held that the provision of a federal statute that required beef growers to contribute to a national advertising campaign was a violation of free speech and free association rights. Parties cannot be compelled to pay for commercial speech with which they disagree.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words Free Speech; Free Association; Compelled Payments; Advertisements
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Congress enacted the Beef Promotion and Research Act in 1985. It required all beef producers to contribute money to a national advertising campaign for beef (“Beef. It’s what’s for dinner!”), as approved by a majority of participating beef producers. Some beef growers objected to the mandatory payment and sued to have the compelled payments declared as a violation of their First Amendment rights to free speech and free association. The district court held the law to be unconstitutional and unenforceable. The government appealed.

Affirmed. Beef producers were compelled to pay assessments that were mandated by statute to support the advertising program. Such government action is not immune from First Amendment scrutiny under the government speech doctrine. The Beef Act violated the First Amendment free association and free speech rights of beef producers who did not wish to pay for the advertising campaign. This is compelled payment for speech with which some payers disagreed. The government’s interest in protecting the welfare of the beef industry is not sufficiently substantial to justify this infringement of the First Amendment.

Citation Livestock Marketing Assn. v. U.S. Dept. of Ag., 335 F.3d 711 (8th Cir., 2003)

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