SCOTUS Agrees That a Ban on Credit Card Surcharges Regulates Speech

SCOTUS Agrees That a Ban on Credit Card Surcharges Regulates Speech

by Jacob Sullum

Reason.com Full Feed / 2017-03-30 07:31

The state of New York forbids merchants to impose a surcharge on customers who use credit cards rather than cash, checks, or debit cards, but it allows them to offer a discount for cash. That amounts to the same thing economically but not psychologically: Calling the difference in price a "surcharge" draws attention to the fact that credit card companies charge merchants a fee (typically 2 percent to 3 percent) for each transaction, and it probably is more effective at encouraging cash purchases, since people tend to feel losses more than gains. Since the surcharge ban restricts the way retailers communicate prices, five New York businesses challenged it on First Amendment grounds, and yesterday the Supreme Court gave their case a boost by agreeing that the law regulates speech…….

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