Will freedom of speech rein Supreme?


The Supreme Court's newest justice, Samuel Alito, spoke before the National Italian American Foundation last week, and although he pointedly declined to offer any insight into the courts leanings on pending cases, he did make remarks which may have shed light on its tilt nonetheless when it comes to First Amendment cases.

Responding to a question, he said, "I'm a very strong believer in the First Amendment and the right of people to speak and write. I would be reluctant to support restrictions on what people could say." The questioner was wondering how far free speech goes on the Internet.

Of interest to broadcasters is the challenge of McCain/Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act provisions affecting issues advertising just prior to an election.

SmartMedia observation: The big question is how Alito would go if the FCC decides to takes the Second Circuit rebuff of its attempt to punish the utterance of fleeting expletives over the air up to the Supreme Court. Some might expect that the conservative Bush-appointed justice would go along with the FCC's attempt to clean up the air waves, but if he is a die-hard First Amendment fan, his vote may well go the other way. This is something the FCC will have to weigh carefully before considering an appeal.