Former FCC Chairs Newton Minow and Mark Fowler, joined by other former FCC Commissioners and officials, have added their respected -- and "dismayed" -- voice to that of Creative Voices in urging the Supreme Court to uphold the Second Circuit's decision in Fox v. FCC. In their brief, they write:
... we have been dismayed by a series of recent [FCC] decisions that have transformed a hitherto moderate policy of policing only the most extreme cases of indecent broadcast programming into a campaign of regulatory surveillance that will chill the production of all but the blandest of broadcast programming.
The FCC’s policy towards broadcast indecency has evolved from a restrained effort to regulate clear, flagrant instances of indecent language by a handful of broadcast licensees and performers into an ever-expanding campaign against ordinary radio and television programming. In pursuit of a policy of protecting children against exposure to extremely offensive language, the Commission has embarked on an enforcement program that has all the earmarks of a Victorian crusade. To effectuate its new clean-up-the-airwaves policy, the Commission has radically expanded the definition of indecency beyond its original conception; magnified the penalties for even minor, ephemeral images or objectionable language; and targeted respected television programs, movies, and even noncommercial documentaries.
These officials also want the Supremes to strip away entirely the FCC's indecency enforcement authority. This is extremely powerful. The brief is at QuelloFCCFox.pdf. An excellent Broadcasting & Cable article is here.
UPDATED. Bill Triplett in Variety reports reaction to the brief from Ex-FCC Chairs and Commissioners:
"They do listen to the voice of experience," says Patricia Millett, an attorney in the Supreme Court practice of the bluechip firm Akin Gump. "And the fact that it's bipartisan will carry more weight because it looks less political. ... The court does pay attention when a brief is written in terms of
day-to-day work and how a policy is workable or not."
"They make a very compelling argument," says a veteran Supreme Court observer of the ex-chiefs' point. "They understand and are sympathetic to the FCC's task on indecency but experience shows that the commission can't handle the political pressure."