Yellow Pages Not Against the Law in Seattle

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For several years there has been a movement going on across the country to outlaw handing out Yellow Page directories because the city leaders feel that they just end up in the landfill and that’s expensive for the city.  Not a good sign for the Yellow Page business model.


Well, according to a story on

A federal appeals court has thrown out city of Seattle restrictions on telephone directories, finding that the big yellow books deserve full protection under the Constitution.

Issuing its decision Monday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found restrictions adopted by the Seattle City Council in 2010 violate the First Amendment protections on free speech.

Meant to curtail the distribution of the often-unwanted books, the city ordinance imposed fees and restrictions on publishers while also requiring that they inform residents they can register not to receive the books.

Attorneys for the city had claimed the Yellow Pages and other, similar directories were commercial speech and, as such, didn’t warrant the broadest protection offered by the First Amendment. A federal judge in Seattle agreed, but was overruled by the higher court’s decision Monday.

I still wouldn’t spend a whole lot of my ad budget on the printed Yellow Pages.

“Although portions of the directories are obviously commercial in nature, the books contain more than that, and we conclude that the directories are entitled to the full protection of the First Amendment,” Judge Richard R. Clifton wrote for the unanimous panel.

A spokeswoman for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes declined to say what the city’s next move would be. The city could appeal the decision or ask that the three-judge panel reconsider its ruling.


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