View Full Version : U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas : Fairness Doctrine 'unconstitutional'

04-30-2009, 02:55 AM
Clarence Thomas : Fairness Doctrine 'unconstitutional'
Controversial policy 'deep intrusion' into broadcasters' rights

For the first time, a U.S. Supreme Court justice is offering some legal insight about the so-called Fairness Doctrine, suggesting the off-the-books policy could be declared unconstitutional if it's revived and brought before the bench.

In written discussion on yesterday's ruling cracking down on indecent language on television, Justice Clarence Thomas called the policy "problematic" and a "deep intrusion into the First Amendment rights of broadcasters."

The doctrine requiring broadcasters to air opposing viewpoints on controversial issues was brought to an end in the 1980s under the direction of President Ronald Reagan's Federal Communications Commission.

There has been widespread fear, though, the policy could be resurrected during the term of President Barack Obama.

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The Pacific Justice Institute, a California-based legal group specializing in the defense of religious freedom and other civil liberties, is calling the remarks by Thomas "very significant."

"To my knowledge, this is the first time a sitting Supreme Court justice has weighed in on this issue," Matt McReynolds, a PJI staff attorney, told WND.

"It could potentially take a lot of steam out of the movement from those who want to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. It also provides a lot of ammo to those who have been saying it's unconstitutional. Now we have some validation from a member of the court."