In the past five years, public schools across the country have begun to explore a new avenue of fundraising: selling naming rights to school facilities. The popularity and monetary value of these sales, however, only highlight the importance of the First Amendment concerns they raise. This Article uses school naming rights as a lens through which to examine the conflicts between government speech, commercial speech, and forum analysis, three categories of First Amendment analysis that are simultaneously and problematically implicated by school naming rights sales. Courts and scholars have long noted the internal ambiguities within these three categories, but have not yet explored the sometimes irreconcilable conflicts among them. As the growth of school naming rights shows, government sponsorship arrangements collapse many of the artificial divisions between the First Amendment’s categories and demonstrate the need for a better understanding of the categories’ interactions. This Article identifies—and attempts to resolve—some of the border disputes between these poorly defined and increasingly important areas of First Amendment law.
Joseph Blocher, School Naming Rights and the First Amendment’s Perfect Storm, 96 Georgetown Law Journal 1-57 (2007)