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Country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements have long been part of government regulation of commerce. While one might ordinarily think of mandatory COOL as part of trade policy--or even as a means of encouraging individual citizens to engage in country-specific buying that would be disallowed as protectionism if carried out by their governments -- the most robust legal challenges to mandatory COOL now come from the First Amendment, not from free trade principles. This reliance on free speech claims offers a stark example of the charismatic force of the First Amendment. Objections having little to do with free speech at their heart are channeled into First Amendment challenges in U.S. law both because of the rhetorical force of free speech claims and because, relatedly, the First Amendment is much more likely to invalidate legislation than many other rights, from privacy to substantive due process (whether the right is abortion or economic freedom).

This short article considers a recent First Amendment challenge to new COOL requirements for meat, which mandate disclosure of the country in which each animal was born, raised, and slaughtered.

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70 Food & Drug L.J. 25 (2015)