Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, the United States (Petitioner), passed a law limiting the time that sex channels could be broadcast of cable TV.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. When the purpose and design of a statute is to regulate speech because of content, special concessions are not afforded to the government simply because the law can be described as a burden instead of suppression.
The Government may regulate the content of constitutionally protected speech in order to promote a compelling interest if it chooses the least restrictive means to further the articulated interest.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Is this restriction of cable TV constitutional?
Held. No. This restriction prevents all homes from receiving cable channels during certain hours and this restriction does not eliminate the possibility of minors accessing the channels without adult supervision.
Dissent. The protection of school age children from being exposed to adult entertainment is a significant governmental interest to validate this regulation.
Discussion. Cable television is identical in its ability to infiltrate a home as the radio. However, blocking the stations prevents adults from exercising a choice of entertainment that they hold independent of whether the same activity is not for children. The majority weighs two factors in favor of restricting the channels in its analysis; 1.) many adults would find the Playboy shows offensive, and 2.) the material is coming into the homes with young children unwanted. But, because the restriction applies to the content of the channels it is an unconstitutional restraint of speech.