When Justin Timberlake ripped off a piece of Janet Jackson’s costume and exposed her bare breast on national television, the Federal Communications Commission famously proposed a record fine of $550,0000 on CBS.
The network protested and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the fine twice. Not backing down, the FCC then appealed to the US Supreme Court and now the highest court in the land has refused to hear the FCC’s request.
The Huffington Post says:
The appeals court didn’t say whether the incident was indecent, but only says the FCC’s policy of excusing fleeting instances of indecent words and images appeared to change without notice in March 2004, a month after Jackson’s halftime act. The judges said that made the agency’s action against CBS “arbitrary and capricious”.
But now, the FCC clearly has abandoned its exception for fleeting expletives, Chief Justice John Roberts said.
“It is now clear that the brevity of an indecent broadcast – be it word or image – cannot immunize it from FCC censure,” he said. “Any future `wardrobe malfunctions’ will not be protected on the ground relied on by the court below.”
In addition, Roberts said that calling it a “wardrobe malfunction” when Justin Timberlake ripped away part of Jackson’s bustier “strained the credulity of the public.”
CBS said it was grateful for the court’s decision.
“At every major turn of this process, the lower courts have sided with us,” the network said in a statement. “And now that the Supreme Court has brought this matter to a close, we look forward to the FCC heeding the call for the very balanced enforcement which was the hallmark of the commission for many, many years.”
There is no shortage of opinion concerning the 2004 incident and Janet Jackson has certainly bore the brunt of the criticism. Justin Timberlake, and now CBS, walk away wholly unscathed by the controversy. For her part, the 46-year-old superstar has shaken off those who have tried to shame her. Since the halftime show, she has released three albums and become the new spokesperson for NutriSystem.
In not electing to hear the case concerning that infamous Superbowl Halftime show, the Supreme Court has basically ruled that we all need to move on from it. Can they also rule that the “wardrobe malfunction” doesn’t give the Superbowl license to discriminate against all black R&B artists? I’m just saying, it’s been eight years.
Follow Alissa Henry on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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