Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem: Rush Limbaugh "is not constitutionally entitled to the people's airways"


At the Volokh Conspiracy, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh highlights a recent CNN op-ed by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan calling on the FCC to stop allowing Rush Limbaugh to "[hide] behind the First Amendment" and instead punish the conservative talk radio host for his offensive comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke. The problem with this, Volokh explains, is that the First Amendment does protect Limbaugh's offensive speech. Volokh writes:

they're urging the government to suppress Limbaugh's speech based on the ideology that it expresses. And this is precisely what the Supreme Court has rightly said is impermissible. In FCC v. Pacifica Foundation (1978), the Court did uphold restrictions on vulgar words on the radio — a question that's now being reconsidered by the Court, in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc. — but in the process the plurality said:

"[I]f it is the speaker's opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection. For it is a central tenet of the First Amendment that the government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas."

Read the whole thing here. For more on the Limbaugh-Fluke controversy, go here.