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Thursday, June 21, 2012

SCOTUS did not give free reign for obscenity on TV

A lot of posts/tweets this morning have been suggesting that the SCOTUS ruling against the FCC in FCC v. Fox means that we are going to see lots of swearing and nudity on TV. That’s not the case. All it means is that the FCC can’t change their rules willy-nilly or whop you with a massive fine without prior notice that the behavior you engage in will whop you with a massive fine (prior notice meaning “its in the rules”). They specifically called out that they were not even considering this a first amendment issue and that the FCC is free to adjust their rules to be more precise in what is or is not allowed.

From the ruling (my emphasis)

It is necessary to make three observations about this decision’s scope. First, because the Court resolves these cases on fair notice grounds under the Due Process Clause, it need not address the First Amendment implications of the Commission’s indecency policy or re- consider Pacifica at this time.  Second, because the Court rules that Fox and ABC lacked notice at the time of their broadcasts that their material could be found actionably indecent under then-existing policies, the Court need not address the constitutionality of the current indecency policy as expressed in the Golden Globes Order and subsequent adjudications.  Third, this opinion leaves the Commission free to modify its current indecency policy in light of its determination of the public interest and applicable legal requirements and leaves courts free to review the current, or any modified, policy in light of its content and application.

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