[law.com] Like the truth that is sometimes found in jest, a moment of levity in a court proceeding can sometimes help to crystallize a legal argument more cogently than the lengthy and serious discussion that preceded or followed it.
Such was the case on Tuesday afternoon as the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals took up for the second time the issue of decency standards for television broadcasters.
Specifically, the three-judge panel is deciding whether to uphold the hefty fines imposed on CBS for Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl.
In the first round of litigation, CBS prevailed when a 3rd Circuit panel overturned the $550,000 in fines that the Federal Communications Commission imposed on CBS over Jackson's breast-baring performance.
But the U.S. Supreme Court later vacated that ruling and ordered the 3rd Circuit to study the case anew in light of the high court's decision in FCC v. Fox Television Stations -- a case that focused on the related issue of celebrities uttering dirty words during live telecasts of award shows.
Supplemental briefs were filed along with a flurry of amicus briefs that offered competing interpretations of whether the Supreme Court's Fox decision requires the 3rd Circuit to reverse course and uphold the fines.
3rd Circuit Weighs Validity of Fines in 'Wardrobe Malfunction' Case