Sunday, December 19, 2004

Supreme Court tackles beef checkoff

News reports indicate that the U.S. Supreme Court's oral argument about the beef checkoff, on December 8, came close to raising the same question I asked about the "government speech" defense of checkoff advertising programs. How can "Beef. It's What's for Dinner" be "government speech" if all government speech is supposed to adhere to the Federal Government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans? According to one report, Ruth Bader Ginsburg tackled this issue:

Ginsberg [sic] expressed some concern that checkoff promotions are advocating eating beef, when there are efforts being made by the U.S. Surgeon General, another federal government official, to promote eating beef in moderation as part of a balanced diet. She indicated that could be a conflict of interest for the government.

Frankly, I have never really lost any sleep over the farmers' First Amendment rights in this case. But consider the absurdity of the government claiming that all of these messages are the government's own. I will post a link to the full oral argument transcript when it becomes available in a few more days.

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