California represents Mecca for followers of the Nanny State. The state flag features a grizzly bear, but a more appropriate symbol might be a large red circle with a slash running through it.
On Tuesday, however, the Golden State’s latest foray into paternalistic hand-holding hit a wall in federal court when a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out San Francisco’s effort to dictate the content of soda advertising.
The case stems from a 2015 ordinance intended to scare consumers into avoiding soft drinks. The law demanded that ads for certain carbonated liquids include a disclaimer saying: “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.”
The law was a monument to bureaucratic fastidiousness, also requiring that the warning label constitute 20 percent of “any advertisements for nonalcoholic beverages that contain added sweeteners and more than 25 calories for 12 ounces,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
The American Beverage Association and other groups contested the statute. A unanimous panel of the appeals court held this week that the language in the warning was “deceptive” and would likely “chill” commercial speech protected under the First Amendment.
A metastasizing infantocracy represents a threat to the concepts of personal choice and individual responsibility. To the extent that the 9th Circuit’s ruling imposes a few soft limits on the Nanny State’s expansion, the ruling is a welcome development.