WASHINGTON — Attorneys and allied attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a friend-of-the-court brief Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to reverse an appellate court judgment that overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s censure of indecent language broadcast during Fox’s televised Billboard Music Awards. The appellate court held that because the words in question were merely “fleeting expletives,” Fox shouldn’t be held accountable for breaking FCC rules that forbid the use of indecent language on network television while children are likely to be watching.
“The government has a legitimate responsibility to protect America’s youth from indecent and immoral content on television,” said ADF Senior Counsel Glen Lavy. “If television networks are allowed to evade censure after allowing harmful language to be broadcast with the full knowledge that millions of children are watching, the court is sending the message that the FCC can no longer take simple steps to protect children, even though Congress created the FCC for precisely that purpose.”
On December 9, 2002, about 9 million people, including more than 2.6 million children, tuned in to Fox for the Billboard Music Awards. During the show, singing artist Cher, after receiving an “Artist Achievement Award,” used indecent language during her comments.
The sole employee monitoring the five-second delay system during the show failed to edit out the crude expletive. Millions were subjected to even more crudity during Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s award presentation the following year, with Fox taking the same minimal precautions, but that time, Pacific and Mountain time zones were spared. Indecency incidents that occurred with other major television networks are currently under review.
The friend-of-the-court brief for ADF and the Family Research Council was co-written by ADF-allied attorneys Robert J. McCully of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP; Bradley S. Tupi of Tucker Arensberg, PC; and Michael A. McCoin.
A copy of the brief filed in Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations is available here. A separate amicus brief filed by other ADF-allied attorneys and former Attorney General Edwin Meese on behalf of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence is available here.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.