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Nike Claims Right to Lie

Nike has applied to the Supreme Court of the United States, to defend its right to make false statements about sweatshop conditions.
Nike has applied to the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn a California Supreme Court ruling that held that Nike could be sued for making false statements in advertising campaigns. the state court ruled 4-3 that a plaintiff had the right to sue Nike for statements the company made in press releases, letters to newspapers and other media outlets, disputing accusations of sweatshop conditions, in the case where those statements are false. (Source: San Franscisco Chronicle staff report 10/16/02).

The truth of Nike's claims that workers are well treated has never been at issue. Those claims are false, as truthful claims are not subject to the statute. Nike's rather breathtaking assertion is that regulating speech contrary to truth violates Nike's right of free speech. Nike further claims that the California courts ruling inhibits its right to engage in political discourse.

The California courts opinion states that the ruling "in no way prohibits any business enterprise from speaking out on issues of public importance or from vigorously defending its own labor practices. It means only that when a business enterprise -- to promote and defend its sales and profits -- makes factual representations it must speak truthfully ... Commercial speech that is false or misleading receives no protection under the First Amendment." (Source: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP).

Because of the ruling, Nike announced it would not be issuing its annual "corporate responsibility" report, which discusses labor practices and which could make Nike further liable under the California court ruling. One may reasonably conclude then, that the report contained false claims of "corporate responsibility."
freedom of speech 16.Oct.2002 09:34


Well really, the freedom to lie should be covered by the 1st Amendment. Look at Michael Rupert, he's an absolute crackpot, paranoid-schizo who wouldn't know the truth if it bit him. He certainly should have the right to say his piece. And all you little Rupert fans should have the right to listen to him and all work each other into a paranoid lather.

Your Right Super Phil 16.Oct.2002 11:23


Mike Ruppert is all wet. I suggest that your hero GWB sue Mike for libel.

Ignorance....Extended 16.Oct.2002 21:25


Nobody in the United States wants to realize where their products come from, nobody wants to see Nike as the evil slave labor user who's goal is to just make as much money as possible. Everyone wants to see this: "damn those air force ones would look fly with my RocaWear jeans". Anything negative in this country would disrupt the happy ignorance that we love. Its best not to know of stuff like that. So Nike's new policy of not making a report just shows that they are concerned with upsetting consumers like they did earlier in the 90's they are just being careful now.

to lie is divine 17.Oct.2002 00:14

Kenny Boy

superphil, you are superperplexing. The Supreme Court may have ruled back in 1893 that corporations have 'Legal Personality' (see "Santa Clara vs. Southern Pacific Railroad"), but that ruling is sometimes referred to as "legal fiction" since it's such messed up logic. Wouldn't similar logic give our government permission to lie to us?

Anyhow, if you accept that twisted and irrational ruling, then sure, Nike deserves 1st amendment protection. Regardless, there are other reasons Nike should NOT be allowed to lie to the public. It is *fraud* when you misrepresent your products. And when Nike lies and says it doesn't run sweatshops, some of the people who spend their money on Nike are unknowingly supporting oppression--something they'd never dream of doing. That amounts to fraud--much like if you fell for someone's lies and bought a computer that didn't compute, a bike that didn't ride, and so on.

So go on, let's debate this...