Supreme Court Strikes Indecency Rules, Doesn’t Address Free Speech Issue

By an 8-0 vote, the Supreme Court today struck down Federal Communications Commission rules regarding indecency on broadcasts.

But the court did not address whether the FCC rules violated anyone’s First Amendment right to free speech. Instead, the justices ruled that the FCC “failed to give Fox or ABC fair notice prior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent.”

The justices added that their ruling “leaves the Commission free to modify its current indecency policy in light of its determination of the public interest.”

The Associated Press sums up the news this way:

“The justices declined on Thursday to issue a broad ruling on the constitutionality of the FCC indecency policy. Instead, the court concluded only that broadcasters could not have known in advance that obscenities uttered during awards show programs and a brief display of nudity on an episode of ABC television’s NYPD Blue could give rise to sanctions.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not take part in the ruling.

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