First Amendment 1, Censorship 0

Today, we celebrate a free speech victory in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.  In the case of Fox Television v. Federal Communications Commission, the three-judge panel struck down the FCC’s indecency policy for being “unconstitutionally vague” and “creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives issue” (e.g., stray f-bombs) that was at the heart of this case.

The case was before the Second Circuit after it was remanded by the Supreme Court last year.  Cato adjunct scholar Robert Corn-Revere, acting in his capacity as partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, is lead counsel for co-petitioner CBS.  Bob wrote an article for last year’s Cato Supreme Court Review in which he characterized the case as the first act of many that will in the networks’ fight for free speech.  He also argued a related case before the Third Circuit in February.

It should go without saying that free speech is a bedrock principle of our nation. Unfortunately, it must indeed be said – over and over again – to the FCC and other governmental agencies who wish to quash speech for whatever purported and often arbitrary reasons.  It’s absurd to think that the foundation of the republic is so fragile that the American people must be protected from the random scatological references of Nicole Richie.

Congrats to Bob and the many lawyers on the case for their hard-fought victory today, and we wish them luck in their continuing fights for freedom of speech.

You can read the Second Circuit’s decision here.