FCC asks Supremes to hear wardrobe malfunction case


U.S. Supreme CourtThe FCC has filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court in the case of Federal Communications Commission and United States of America v CBS Corporation et al. It hopes to have its loss in the Third Circuit regarding the Janet Jackson Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction overturned.

The FCC said its rationale for finding the incident indecent and for hitting CBS with a  $550K fine was sound – it said the display was shocking to the audience and generated an unprecedented number of public complaints.

The FCC said the incident was patently offensive, particularly in the context of a widely watched sporting event that catered to family viewing, among other things, and argued that the brevity of it didn’t matter.

However, the brevity is why the FCC thinks it lost, saying that the lower court erred in finding the incident fleeting, which is one of the reasons it found for CBS.

The FCC also argued it has some leeway in enforcing decency on the airwaves and argues that it did not err in this case.

RBR-TVBR observation: It took three-sixteenths of a second and after more than eight years it is still with us, keeping attorneys in spending money. Stay tuned.


  1. When the government brings a legal action against a corporation, it costs that corporation millions to defend itself, whether it wins or loses, while the government entity just gets to walk away unscathed. It seems to me there ought to be some penalty when the government loses. A cash penalty would only take money from the hard-working taxpayer. Perhaps in cases where the government loses the case, someone should automatically be fired.

  2. Just goes to show you that administrations regardless of political stripe invariably seek to have their authority to set policy upheld, no matter how ridiculous or indefensible on constitutional grounds it may seem.

  3. With the US court systems so overwhelmed with cases, causing so many plea bargains, this is the type of case that they’ve chosen to waste tax payers’ money on?

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