The Supreme Court released its ruling in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, et al. (07-582), in which a 5-4 majority found that the FCC acted on a rational basis in changing its policy on fleeting expletives. In an opinion penned by Justice Scalia, the Court declined to rule on the First Amendment question of whether indecency regulations are still constitutional. The majority decided the administrative law issue and sent the First Amendment issue back to the Second Circuit.
In his brief concurrence, Justice Thomas suggested that technology and today’s fractured media landscape may not bode well for indecency regulation in a future case testing the constitutionality of broadcast indecency regulation.
Lyle Denniston, Scotusblog, Court partly upholds “dirty words” ban, “The main opinion stressed that it was dealing only with the question of whether the flat ban was “arbitrary and capricious” as a matter of law. The Court said it did not violate that standard, but that is as far as the ruling went. The Second Circuit Court, when the case returns there, will have a chance to pass upon broadcasters’ constitutional challenges to the ban. The lower court did not do so on the first review, but strongly hinted then that the ban would not survive a direct First Amendment challenge.”
The Wall Street Journal, Court Upholds FCC ‘Fleeting Expletive’ Rule “The court reversed a lower court ruling that the Federal Communications Commission didn’t follow proper procedures in adopting its new rule. But the ruling, by Justice Antonin Scalia, didn’t address the underlying constitutional issue — whether the First Amendment permits the FCC to punish such speech.”
Los Angeles Times, Supreme Court upholds regulation of ‘indecent’ language on TV: “The Supreme Court said today that TV viewers should not be hit with the ‘F-word’ or the ‘S-word’ during prime-time broadcasts, upholding the government’s power to impose huge fines on broadcasters for airing a single expletive.”
Adam Bonin at Daily Kos, nicely summarizes the key points of the opinion and various dissenting and concurring opinions, SCOTUS Issues “F**king Brilliant” Decision
Previously: FCC v. Fox Oral Arguments Today (11/08) Court Grants Cert in FCC v. Fox (3/08) Second Circuit strikes strict indecency regs (6/07) Fox v. FCC Oral Arguments (12/06)
The New York Times reports, Lawyers Enter Twitter Tempest: “Mr. Rucinsky, a 30-year-old part-time art dealer who uses his middle name as his last name when he writes, sends silly blurbs on Twitter and writes inane blog postings that purport to reflect Ms. Freeman’s musings about New York City restaurants, like ‘Governor of Texas raving about Secession on TV all week. Must be great word of mouth for Bouley!’ His fake Restaurant Girl also ventures into more cosmic concerns: ‘Does anyone know what happens to all the chocolate bunnies no one bought for Easter? Are they put to sleep?’”
Freeman does have a trademark registration for RESTAURANT GIRL. Ruckinsky’s Twitter account at twitter.com/restaurantgirl claims to be “an unaffiliated parody of Danyelle Freeman, the real Restaurant Girl who can be found at restaurantgirl.com. She’s not this clever or ambitious.”
NY Magazine’s Grub Street blog reports, Hershey’s Tells Jacques Torres to ‘Kiss’ His Champagne Bon Bons Good-bye — Grub Street: New York Magazine’s Food and Restaurant Blog: “Jacques Torres tells us that he recently received a letter from a lawyer for Hershey’s Chocolate telling him that the ‘Champagne Kiss’ he’s been serving for two years (a $1.50 bon bon made with pink Champagne) is an infringement of the Hershey’s Kiss copyright (sic).” (That would be a trademark.)