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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 17, 2008
CONTACT: Suzanne Bibby (202) 544-0353
Supreme Court Should Keep Profanity Off the Airwaves
Washington, D.C. — Eagle Forum, a leading pro-family organization founded by Phyllis Schlafly, applauds the Supreme Court today for deciding to hear Fox Television Stations v. FCC. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) appealed this case to the Supreme Court after the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York implied a constitutional right for network television to broadcast spontaneous profanity. The FCC policy in question allows for fines against broadcasters for so-called "fleeting expletives," or on-air curse words. Fox Broadcasting Co., ABC, CBS, and NBC all challenged this FCC practice after numerous celebrities used profane words during live broadcasts in 2002 and 2003. These companies claimed their right to air such speech was constitutionally protected under the First Amendment, even though the Supreme Court rejected this claim back in 1978 in the case FCC v. Pacifica Foundation.
"Today, the Supreme Court rightly agreed to hear this appeal," said Eagle Forum Executive Director Jessica Echard. "The Supreme Court ruled thirty years ago that broadcasted profanity is not protected by the First Amendment, and that decision should be upheld."
"The FCC has a legitimate argument that should be seriously considered when this case is argued in the fall," Echard said. "If the 2nd Circuit's ruling stands, the federal government would have no real authority to enforce these decency standards, while at the same time, it would still be held accountable for the hundreds of thousands of complaints from consumers."
"American families do not want the floodgates of obscenity unleashed in their living rooms!" concluded Echard. "It would be totally unacceptable for the courts to rule in favor of the broadcast companies and to leave the burden on parents to filter inappropriate language via technological advances. That's like saying public nudity is now acceptable because it's up to the individual to shut their eyes."