Fighting for our f’ing First Amendment

The Wall Street Journal reports that the judges on the federal appeals court gave the FCC a tough time in oral arguments over fines against Fox:

The judges bored in on the FCC argument. Noting that the hearing was being broadcast on C-Span, the judges quizzed Mr. Miller about whether news programs that subsequently air the oral arguments — where the offending words were sprinkled liberally throughout — would violate FCC standards.

Mr. Miller said likely not, as the words are used for legitimate news purposes.

“This seems to be a scheme that depends on what you [the FCC] think instead of having objective criteria,” said Judge Rosemary Pooler, part of the appeals-court panel. “Are you just telling the networks … to make some sort of cockamamie claim and they’ll survive?”

Judge Pooler kept Mr. Miller on the defensive throughout his half-hour long argument, telling him he seemed to contradict himself over whether broadcasters can claim virtually anything has news value. Later, she asked why the FCC had cited a need to protect children from profanities when it had cited no studies finding children were injured by them, but yet had never sought to penalize broadcasters for violence in programs when many studies show they do injure children.

I smell a Constitutional moment coming on. Fingers crossed.