George Carlin was represented in front of the Supreme Court of the United States by a small contingent of protesters as justices heard arguments on the FCC’s enforcement of indecency regulations on the inside. A ruling is expected before the Court goes on recess in June.
According to a report from The Wrap, justices representing the conservative wing of the Court mentioned the reasonableness of arguments on both sides of the issue. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia are said to have found it reasonable that there is at least one safe haven for children on the remote-accessible dial, but Justice Samuel Alito is said to have noted that broadcast now represents such a small sliver of the whole that perhaps it is time to let the broadcast decency exception die a natural death.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who dealt with some of these issues at the appellate level prior to joining the Supreme Court, will sit this one out.
RBR-TVBR observation: We have stated our belief on numerous occasions that the Court would uphold the FCC’s right to police broadcast content for decency, but would order it to come up with a better definition. Now we’re not so sure.
If there is indeed a split decision coming from the conservative wing alone, it eliminates the common left-right tie/what’s-the-swing-vote-going-to-be SCOTUS scenario.
We are not expert court watchers and have no idea where the Court may be going on this, especially with the bench temporarily reduced to eight active players, but if we were big fans of FCC indecency enforcement, we’d be worried now, and as fans of broadcast freedom of speech we find ourselves mildly optimistic.