A discount, by any other name, would be a surcharge

stoke signRowell v. Pettijohn confronted the surprisingly subtle question of whether a Texas statute, which proscribes surcharges by merchants for credit-card purchases, violates the First Amendment.  The panel majority concluded that it did not, as “prices, although necessarily communicated through language, do not rank as ‘speech’ within the meaning of the First Amendment.”  A dissent saw matters differently: “[T]he Texas law does not regulate the difference between prices . . . .  All that it regulates is what merchants can tell customers about their prices.”  Other circuits have also reached different conclusions about similar statutes in other states.  No. 15-50168 (March 2, 2016).

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