Tuned In

Will SCOTUS Know Indecency When It Sees It?

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up the case of Fox network vs. the FCC, after the U.S. court of appeals ruled that the FCC could not fine the network for the use of “fleeting expletives” by Cher and Nicole Richie. I won’t rehash my opinions on the case (see here, here and here) or the FCC’s general nanny-statism.

But I will reiterate my constant reminder that the broadcast-decency issue is one of those controversies that don’t break down along traditional liberal-conservative lines. Here, we’re essentially seeing a cultural-conservative argument (that the government has a role in promoting public morals) against an economic-conservative one (that the government should stay out of the affairs of private business, not to mention out of viewers’ living rooms). And you’ll find “liberals” and “conservatives” lining up on both sides of the argument.

The big unknown–which I’m not legal scholar enough to guess at–is whether the case will prove the Court’s pro-business leanings, or something else. But it would be nice if the ruling provided some clarity in the muddled question of what Washington can and cannot police.