Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia cites danger of limiting what can be heard and when
While President Obama's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prepares to attack conservative talk radio with some version of the Fairness Doctrine, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in open court last week may have thrown a bombshell into those plans.
During oral argument in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, Justice Scalia said, "Do you think that there's a possibility that the First Amendment interest is greater when what the government is trying to stifle is not just a speaker who wants to say something but also a hearer who wants to hear what the speaker has to say?"
In other words, Justice Scalia raised the possibility that Rush Limbaugh's 20 million fans, as well as the listeners to 2,000 other radio talk shows, have constitutional rights, too. In particular, they have a right to choose what they want to listen to, or to watch, without government interference.
In fact, the courts have long recognized such a constitutional right to listen, as well as the free speech right of a speaker to speak. In Rossignol v. Voorhaar, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held in 2003 that the First Amendment protects both a speaker's right to communicate information and ideas to a broad audience and the intended recipients' right to receive that information and those ideas.