January 2012 Archives

We've been here before, but now the Supreme Court is again hearing arguments on the FCC's indecency standards, in particular the First Amendment aspects and the rule on fleeting expletives and broadcast.

Transcript: FCC v. Fox (Oral Arguments, Jan. 10, 2012)

Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog Many options on TV rules, "With one Justice testing the ultimate constitutionality of government controls on broadcast TV, another trolling for an exceedingly narrow approach, two others suggesting that technology may be overtaking the constitutional dispute, one signing himself up for rigorous morality policing, and one whose vote may really be crucial staying entirely silent, the Supreme Court on Tuesday wandered widely in its new exploration of the state of profanity and nudity on television and radio. The lively argument in the latest round of that controversy even had a lawyer pointing out portrayals of nudity in the courtroom decorations above the Justices' heads."

Adam Liptak, The New York Times, TV Decency Is a Puzzler for Justices, "In a rollicking Supreme Court argument that was equal parts cultural criticism and First Amendment doctrine, the justices on Tuesday considered whether the government still had good reason to regulate cursing and nudity on broadcast television. The legal bottom line was not easy to discern, though there seemed to be little sentiment for a sweeping overhaul of the current system, which subjects broadcasters to fines for showing vulgar programming that is constitutionally protected when presented on cable television or the Internet."

Nina Totenberg, NPR: High Court Hears Arguments In FCC Indecency Case
"Inside the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, representing the Obama administration, said that Congress intended broadcast licenses to come with an obligation to meet certain decency standards -- standards that would provide a safe haven for family viewing."

Ruthann Robson, Constitutional Law Prof Blog FCC v. Fox Argument: On Naked Buttocks, Regulated Media, and the First Amendment "Both Fox (represented by Carter G Phillips) focused on the 'fleeting expletive' sanction based on Cher's statement at an award ceremony and ABC (represented by Seth Waxman) focused on a nudity sanction based on an episode of NYPD Blue, argued against the FCC (represented by the Solicitor General Verrilli)."