Content Neutrality Law & Legal Definition


Content neutrality refers generally to publications that are without bias, representing all views fairly. In the context of free speech law, recent U.S. Supreme Court cases have based the outcome in some free speech cases largely on whether the law restricting free speech was content based or content neutral. In cases involving a city’s ordinance prohibiting nude dancing, a state university’s requirement for mandatory student activity fees, and a state law restricting speech outside abortion clinics, among others, the Court found each to be content neutral. The Supreme Court has stated that the main question to ask in deciding content neutrality is “whether the government has adopted a regulation because of a disagreement with the message it conveys. The government’s purpose is the controlling consideration.” Any law that regulates content must satisfy a strict scrutiny test that requires narrow tailoring to meet a compelling governmental interest.