SCOTUScast 1-30-09 featuring Chris Landau
FCC v. Fox Television Stations
January 30, 2009Chris Landau
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SCOTUScast 1-30-09 featuring Chris Landau - MP3
Running Time: 00:14:12
On Tuesday, November 4, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in FCC v. Fox Television Stations. The Supreme Court here considers the FCC's policy on the broadcast of vulgar words. The case arises from controversy over an omnibus order issued by the FCC in 2006 to punish broadcasters for even single uses of vulgar words—so-called fleeting expletives. This new order was prompted by several high-profile incidents of fleeting expletives at awards shows and represented a break from the FCC's long-standing policy, crafted in the wake of the 1975 case FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, to take action against broadcasters only for the repeated or sustained use of vulgar language. Although the new order was a notice of only "apparent liability" with no corresponding punishment, Fox and other broadcasters petitioned for review by the Second Circuit, which struck the order down as an arbitrary and capricious deviation not allowed under federal communications law, but invited the agency to provide a "reasonable explanation" for changing its mind. Instead, the FCC appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which now considers whether the Second Circuit erred in striking down the FCC's new policy against fleeting expletives. Kirkland & Ellis Partner Chris Landau discusses the case.
Oral Argument - November 4, 2008: