Splitting 5-4, the Supreme Court upheld the government’s power under existing law to ban the use on radio and TV of even a single four-letter word that is considered indecent — but left open the question of whether the ban might violate the First Amendment, at least in some situations. The Court, in an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, said the Federal Communications Commission’s switch in policy to ban even a fleeting use of such a word was “entirely rational” under the law that governs federal administrative powers....Glitteratae... female glitterati? Cher was involved. And Nicole Ritchie.
His written opinion, in a case dealing with uses of those four-letter words during performance awards broadcasts involving celebrities, took a swipe at “foul-mouthed glitteratae from Hollywood.”
Basically, the ruling simply means that the FCC provided a sufficient explanation of why it switched from a more relaxed policy on “dirty words” to a near-total ban on “fleeting expletives.”So the constitutional free-speech question remains.
... Justice Clarence Thomas, in a separate concurring opinion, said he would be open to reconsidering two of the Court’s major precedents that allow the government the constitutional authority to treat broadcasting differently from the rest of the press for First Amendment purposes. Those two precedents — Red Lion Broadcasting v. FCC in 1969 and FCC v. Pacifica Foundation in 1978 — brought a “deep intrusion into the First Amendment rights of broadcasters”....Bring it on.