Naughty Words and Nipples

Janet_Jackson_Justin_Timberlake_SuperBowlXXXVIII_AP.jpgFive years after the Super Bowl halftime show that gave us the phrase "wardrobe malfunction," the Supreme Court has refused to allow CBS to get dressed and go home.

Last week, in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Justice Scalia announced his (and the Court's) support for the FCC's decision to impose liability for two uses of inappropriate language on television.  The first instance was Cher dropping an f-bomb during the 2002 Billboard Music Awards, and the second was Nicole Richie's now famous query during the same event the following year, "Why do they even call it 'The Simple Life'?  Have you ever tried to get cow shit out of a Prada purse?  It's not so fucking simple." 

Yesterday the Court indicated that it finds Janet Jackson's allegedly indecent exposure as disturbing as the other leading ladies' language.  While the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit had concluded that the 9/16-second eyeful was insufficient to support the FCC's imposition of a $550,000 fine, the Supreme Court apparently disagrees.  The appellate decision in FCC v. CBS has thus been vacated and remanded to allow the 3rd Circuit to reconsider the relationship between bad words and a briefly bared breast.