Us Supreme Court To Hear Case On Nudity And Profanity On Tv

01.09.12 | Sarah Harnisch

  There are two federal court cases you'll want to keep an eye on. Tomorrow, Tuesday January 10th, the nation's highest court will weigh the government's power to regulate nudity and profanity in broadcast television. The major television networks are arguing it violates free speech rights, and say the FCC erratically enforces the law, randomly imposing 325-thousand-dollar fines on stations that are caught dropping a single swear word. But the Parent's Television Counsel is urging the court to hold its ground. They say the case will determine whether the indecency statute will remain a small word, or will be expanded to something that would dramatically affect what children and families can watch on television. The case stems all the way back to 1978, when comedian George Carlin came out with a bit called "7 Dirty Words." The Supreme Court ruled then that he violated decency laws. But the t.v. networks are arguing that with new technology, offensive content isn't as available to children today as it was 30 years ago. The White House issued a statement saying the FCC's policy is constitutional, does not violate the First Amendment, is needed, and should be upheld.

    A second case you'll want to keep an eye on is a First Amendment battle that could ultimately head to the U.S. Supreme Court. This week, a federal appeals court will review whether the small town of Manchester, Missouri can enforce a law that bans a gay group from protesting at funerals. The group says it has free speech rights, and the city says it has the right to protect families and mourners.