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Federal Trade Commission Attempts To Suppress Best-Selling Author's First Amendment Rights

FTC Continues Campaign To Silence Kevin Trudeau's Criticisms of Government


CHICAGO, Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues its campaign to silence best-selling author and activist Kevin Trudeau's criticism of the government, filing an action against opinions expressed in an infomercial promoting Trudeau's latest book, The Weight Loss Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About. In its latest assault against Trudeau, the FTC has abandoned its long-standing policy of not proceeding against advertisements for books, which are protected by the First Amendment.

The action was filed in Chicago on September 13, 2007, in federal court to hold Trudeau in contempt of a prior court order for advertising his new book, which has been on bestseller lists for 16 weeks. The FTC contends that Trudeau's advertisements misrepresent the content of the book, alleging its weight-loss tips are described as "easy." The FTC disagrees that the protocol is "easy." Trudeau maintains the weight-loss tips offered in the book are merely opinions and therefore are protected by the First Amendment.

For the past 35 years, the FTC has adhered to a policy, commonly known as the "mirror-image" rule, that it will not proceed against advertisements for books as long as the advertisements merely repeat the opinions and ideas expressed in the book. As such, the government's conflicting viewpoint on opinions expressed in the book is irrelevant.

The FTC re-affirmed the mirror-image rule in 2005 when it held that controversial statements made in an infomercial for Trudeau's previous bestseller, Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About, were an "expression of opinion protected by the First Amendment" and that "to ban advertising for fully protected speech would be quite extraordinary and not something you'd want your government to be doing."

"Despite the FTC's past statements that opinions expressed in Mr. Trudeau's infomercials are in fact protected by the First Amendment, it appears the agency is going back on its word," said David Bradford, partner at Jenner & Block in Chicago. "The FTC appears to be frustrated by Mr. Trudeau's continuing criticisms of them and is now seeking to block him from promoting the ideas conveyed in his book."

The FTC's court action was publicized by a news release titled, "FTC: Marketer Kevin Trudeau Violated Prior Court Order," suggesting the court found Trudeau violated a prior order. Although there has not yet been a substantive hearing or any finding that Trudeau violated a court order, the FTC's release is apparently designed to mislead the public.

SOURCE Shop America
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