The City of Seattle has asked the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a ruling last month by a three-judge panel that Seattle’s opt-out provision for the Yellow Pages violates the First Amendment.
The Appeals Court in October ruled that Seattle can’t limit distribution of the phone books with an opt-out registry and can’t charge companies a recycling fee for the unwanted books. The three-judge panel said the yellow pages are protected speech.
To win a hearing by the full court, 15 of 28 active judges of the Ninth Circuit must vote to accept the case.
In its petition, the city says, “The conclusion that Yellow Pages are not commercial speech is contrary to the long-standing law of the Supreme Court, this Court and sister circuits requiring that hybrid speech be regulated as commercial speech unless the two types of speech are actually ‘inextricably intertwined.’ ”
The petition also argues that governments have a legitimate interest in regulating abusive business practices and have enacted numerous laws protecting consumers from unwanted solicitation.
More than 79,000 residents and businesses have opted out under the program run by Seattle Public Utilities.