Appeals Court Rejects Constitutional Right To Chase Ambulances

A federal appeals court this week held that a Texas statute that prohibits lawyers and chiropractors from soliciting business from accident victims within 30 days of the accident is constitutional. Since the statute restricts “commercial speech,” the court had to determine if the limit on the speech advanced a “substantial governmental interest.” This test recognizes that even commercial speech is entitled to First Amendment protection, but also recognizes that such speech is not entitled to as much deference as political or artistic expression. The court said the governmental interest is the privacy concerns of the accident victims. The court heard anecdotal evidence from accident victims who testified that such solicitations added to the stress of the accident. In the court’s mind, this permitted the limited intrusion on the speech. I doubt that anyone outside of the legal and chiropractic community is very upset by this ruling. But I wonder if the founding fathers ever imagined that the First Amendment would spur this kind of litigation. Or this kind, for that matter: