First Amendment Studies

Freedom of Commercial Speech

Presented by the BB&T Dialogue Series on Free Speech

A Panel Discussion

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

5:30 PM

LOCATION: College of Liberal Arts Building (CLA) 0.130


CLARK NEILY - Attorney, Institute for Justice

TAMARA PIETY - Professor, University of Tulsa, College of Law

DAVID BROWN- Journalist, KUT Radio, Texas Standard



  • Truth in advertising – should the law police it? And should paid ads have to say that they are paid ads?
  • Mandatory disclosure of product information (calorie counts, labor practices) – Do consumers have the right to compel certain speech?
  • Confidentiality agreements – May businesses demand silence from employees?
  • Would “net neutrality” restrictions liberate speech, or limit speech?
  • Occupational Speech – Doctors, designers & many others give advice; tour guides & teachers talk for a living. When a person is paid for his speech, should he need a license?
  • Does the exchange of money alter individuals’ speech rights?
  • To what extent can you separate free enterprise & free speech? Can either exist without the other?
  • Does a business hold the same First Amendment rights as a person?


Clark Neily CLARK NEILY is a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, a public policy law firm based in Washington, DC. He litigates constitutional cases involving economic liberty, property rights, school choice, and the First Amendment in both federal and state courts. He has worked on commercial cases involving state licensing of such occupations as limousine service and interior design. Mr. Neily also represented the plaintiffs in the historic Heller gun rights case, in which the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own a gun for self-defense.

After earning his BA & law degrees from the University of Texas, Neily clerked for Judge Royce Lamberth on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He then worked as a litigator with the Dallas-based firm Thompson & Knight before moving to IJ.

Mr. Neily is the author of the recent book, Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited Government, in which he defends “Judicial Engagement,” an alternative both to illegitimately “activist” courts and passively pliant courts. 

Tamara PietyTAMARA PIETY is a Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa. A nationally recognized scholar on the legal treatment of commercial and corporate speech, Piety is widely published in legal journals and author of the book, Brandishing the First Amendment, published in 2012. Brandishing describes how advertising and corporate speech came to receive robust First Amendment protection and argues that this protection does not materially advance any of the interests the First Amendment was meant to protect.

Professor Piety earned her bachelor's degree in economics from Florida International University; her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Miami School of Law, and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, where she was the Executive Editor of the Harvard Women's Law Journal. At Miami, she was one of 10 students who participated in a special seminar with the late Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan. 

Professor Piety clerked for the Honorable Peter T. Fay of the Eleventh Circuit and the Honorable Irving L. Goldberg on the Fifth Circuit. In Spring 2015, she will be a Senior Research Scholar in Law at Yale Law School’s Information Society Program. 

David BrownDAVID BROWN is a familiar voice to many Austin residents as a radio journalist. He has served as the national host of public radio’s Marketplace and more recently, KUT’s award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters." Today, he is the Host and Managing Editor of the Texas Standard, a statewide daily news hour covering business and money, politics, life, culture, as well as breaking news--no matter where it happens. The program is a first-of-its-kind collaboration among public radio stations across the state, as well as the Texas Tribune, Texas Monthly, NPR, and many other partners.   

Mr. Brown holds a law degree from Washington and Lee University. He entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An political junkie with a passion for pop culture, Mr. Brown has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and various points across the United States and Europe.

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