Brief Fact Summary. Forbes (Petitioner) was running for political office and was denied the opportunity to participate in a television debate.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The First Amendment does not compel public broadcasters to provide access to programming for third parties.
Although public broadcasting as a general matter does not lend itself to scrutiny under the forum doctrine, candidate debates present the narrow exception to the rule.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Because the government owned the television station was it obligated to open the debate to all candidates?
Held. No. Although the speech was subject to the scrutiny of a non-public forum, the television station still had the right to exercise journalistic judgment and limit the participants.
Dissent. The television station created a public debate forum in which all candidates should have had access. The majority decision gives the state the power to eliminate the unpopular views without proper constitutional justification.
Discussion. The majority gives deference to the journalist to decide what to include in the programming. Respondent was not banned from the debate because of his views. Instead, he was not invited because there was a lack of public interest and support of his candidacy in general.