More on the Original Meaning of Commercial Speech Protection

Originalist scholar Rob Natelson writes with some additional evidence from his book The Original Constitution: What It Actually Said and Meant (2d ed, p. 174) that commercial speech was part of the Freedeom of Speech.  He notes:   

 “A moderate Anti-Federalist writing as the “Federal Farmer,” called a free press “the channel of communication as to mercantile and public affairs.”

The Continental Congress stated in letter written by John Dickinson that freedom of the press promoted “truth, science, morality, and arts in general,” diffused “liberal sentiments on the administration of Government,” helped communicate “thoughts between subjects,” and promoted “union among them.”

Taking account of several changes in the meaning of language, we can translate Dickinson’s statement as meaning that freedom of the press promoted truth, knowledge, morality, the fine arts and technology; that it diffused toleration in political affairs; and that it helped communicate thoughts among citizens and promoted union among them.

This evidence provides additional support for the view that the Framers’ generation did not draw a sharp distinction between political speech and other speech.  Just as we now consider speech concerning the arts as protected, even though it may not involve political affairs, so would speech involving commerce.