Supreme Court Dismisses Nike Constitutional Protection Case

June 26, 2003 ( - The US Supreme Court has ruled a suit against Nike Inc. can proceed, rejecting the company's contentions that is advertising speech was constitutionally protected.

>The high court, on the last day of its term, said the free speech appeal was dismissed without reaching the merits of the dispute. The ruling means the lawsuit against Nike can go forward, according to an Associated Press report. However, if Nike loses at trial, it can raise the free-speech argument again.

>Justices Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Stephen Breyer dissented. “In sum, I can find no good reason for postponing a decision in this case,” Breyer said.

Case Background

>The Supreme Court ruling upholds a California State Supreme Court decision in a case that began in 1998.   The initial civil suit alleged the sportswear company lied about working conditions for workers in Vietnam, China, and Indonesia. Nike has come under fire for the working conditions at some of its factories in Asia, with a staff of mainly female workers, aged 18 to 24.

The suit claimed Nike officials knew when they defended their labor policies that the Asian workers were the victims of physical punishment and sexual abuse, had to work in a dangerous environment, and were paid a substandard wage.