Supreme Court ruling outlaws broadcast expletive outbursts

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A divided Supreme Court Tuesday upheld a federal prohibition on the one-time use of expletives in a case arising partly from an expletive uttered by Cher at a Billboard Music Awards show in 2002.

The ruling, by a 5-4 vote and written by Justice Antonin Scalia, endorsed a Bush administration Federal Communications Commission policy against isolated outbursts of, as Scalia said from the bench, the "f-word" and "s-word."

The ruling does not resolve a lingering First Amendment challenge to the 2004 policy that is likely to be subject to further lower court proceedings.

Read the whole article.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

3 Comments
Posted April 28, 2009 at 12:33 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. vulcanhammer wrote:

My guess is that the reaction of the losers in this case can’t be broadcast either.

April 28, 1:14 pm | [comment link]
2. William P. Sulik wrote:

First, while the headline indicates the Supremes outlawed these “outbursts,” the text properly notes they merely “upheld a federal prohibition…”

Second, as can be seen from the article and the opinions, this is a very limited decision.  Interesting to me is the concurrence of Justice Clarence Thomas who called for a reexamination of Red Lion (which upheld the Fairness Doctrine and the Personal Attack Rule) and Pacifica (which upheld a restriction on [George Carlin’s] 7 Dirty Words).  As I read J. Thomas he would strike down these and related broadcasting rules and violations of the First Amendment:  “Red Lion and Pacifica were unconvincing when they were issued, and the passage of time has only increased doubt regarding their continued validity.”

April 28, 1:19 pm | [comment link]
3. The_Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but this is about like regulating Quixote’s windmills. I mean, very view people exclusively watch network television. Cable channels are pretty much immune from this.

April 28, 2:23 pm | [comment link]
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