Court Declines to Release Fox Profanity Tapes

Supreme Court declines early release of tapes from Tuesday's oral argument in case of FCC vs. Fox et al.

The Supreme Court has declined early release of the tapes from Tuesday's oral argument in the on-air profanity case of the FCC vs. Fox et al.

C-SPAN had asked for the tapes, hoping to air them as soon as they got them Tuesday, but the court declined on Friday without elaboration.

That means the tapes are not likely to be released until the end of the term in June or July. "We are disappointed," said C-SPAN spokesman Peter Kiley.

Andrew Schartzman, whose Media Access Project represents one of the parties to the challenge and who will be in the courtroom Tuesday, said he was surprised but remarked  that the justices’ "life tenure brings with it the ability to do what they want to do, and they don't have to give any reasons."

As for the possibility that the High Court simply does not want to distract from Election Day, Schwartzman called it a "plausible explanation."

The Associated Press, for one, was suggesting Monday that the Court was looking to stay out of the spotlight in the waning days of the presidential campaign

C-SPAN asked for and got permission to televise Fox's oral argument in the Second Circuit's hearing of the profanity case. It was that victory--the court said the FCC had been arbitrary and capricious in failing to justify its pursuit of fleeting cussing--that the FCC appealed to the High Court and which Fox will be defending Nov. 4.

C-SPAN also tried to get permission to televise the Third Circuit's oral arguments on the infamous Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake reveal--which resulted in a similar defeat for the FCC--but that court denied the coverage request.

The Supreme Court does not allow TV cameras or live audio coverage, but has made tapes available on an expedited basis for some key cases, most notably the 2000 Bush vs. Gore recount decision.