Federal Court System
Campbell's Back in the Can
American Justice Synopsis--jk
AMERICAN JUSTICE: Revealed through published federal cases--jk
Conservative Rulings as of 7/07
The Supreme Court's View of Justice
Supreme Court's Pot Ruling
Negroes execution stats--disparity
Satire on Prison Life--jk
Supreme Court Shields Drug Companies
Campbell's Back in the Can
Campbell's Recent Developments


Fairness Doctrine



The Fairness Doctrine is a former policy of the United State’s Federial Communication Commission.   It required broadcast licensees to present controversial issues of public importance, and to present such issues in an honest, equal and balanced manner.

In Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC (1969), the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Fairness Doctrine, under challenges that it violated the first Admendment.  Although similar laws had been deemed unconstitutional when applied to newspapers (and the court, five years later, would unanimously overturn a Florida statute on newspapers), the Court ruled that radio stations could be regulated in this way because of the scarcity of radio stations. Critics of the Red Lion decision have pointed out that most markets then and now are served by a greater number of radio stations than newspapers.

Critics of the Fairness Doctrine believed that it was primarily used to intimidate and silence political opposition. Although the Doctrine was rarely enforced, many radio broadcasters believed it had a "chilling effect" on their broadcasting, forcing them to avoid any commentary that could be deemed critical or unfair by powerful interests.

The Doctrine was enforced throughout the entire history of the FCC (and its precursor, the Federal Radio Commission) until 1987, when the FCC repealed it in the Syracuse Peace Conference decision in 1987. The Republican-controlled commission claimed the doctrine had grown to inhibit rather than enhance debate and suggested that, due to the many media voices in the marketplace at the time, the doctrine was probably unconstitutional. Others, noting the subsequent rise of right-wing radio hosts likeRush Linbaugh, suggest the repeal was more likely motivated by a desire to get partisans on the air.

The two corollary rules, the personal attack rule and the political editorial rule, remained in practice even after the repeal of the fairness doctrine. The personal attack rule is pertinent whenever a person or small group is subject to a character attack during a broadcast. Stations must notify such persons or groups within a week of the attack, send them transcripts of what was said, and offer the opportunity to respond on the air. The political editorial rule applies when a station broadcasts editorials endorsing or opposing candidates for public office, and stipulates that the candidates not endorsed be notified and allowed a reasonable opportunity to respond.

The Court of Appeals for Washington D.C. ordered the FCC to justify these corollary rules in light of the decision to axe the fairness doctrine. The commission did not do so promptly, and in 2000 it ordered their repeal. The collapse of the fairness doctrine and its corollary rules had significant political effects. One liberal Pennsylvania political leader, State Rep. Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia, said "The fairness doctrine helped reinforce a politics of moderation and inclusiveness. The collapse of the fairness doctrine and its corollary rules blurred the distinctions between news, political advocacy, and political advertising, and helped lead to the polarizing cacophony of strident talking heads that we have today."

Conservatives, in contrast, see attempts to revive the Doctrine as an attempt to silence conservative voices, noting that sectors of the media they believe to have a liberal bias (major newspapers, newsmagazines, evening newscasts of the broadcast networks) would not be touched by the Doctrine.  {There never has been a liberal bias, but rather a conservative bias even when the doctrine was in place, for those who own the stations and their corporate advertisers influence content. That most people believe there is and has been  a liberal bias shows the power of the media to plant the seeds of deception—jk}. 

Books such as Brook’s and several carefully constructed studies show the Conservative position to be without merit.  The very logistic of the situation—confirmed by experience and numerous paradigms—confirm these studies.  Simply put, the vast majority of those who own significant chunks of the media are political conservatives as are the advertisers, and their political and social beliefs have changed the political and social beliefs of the American people.  A misinformed electorate makes a sham of democracy—jk.


In 07 the court ruled that the editor can require of a reporter that he write what has been shown to be false.  In particular two reporters for Fox News were told to report on a particular drug falsely.   They refused and were fired.  The court denied them any remedial rights for their job termination and upheld the right of the employer to publish knowingly lies.   


Jurisprudence is a set of rules that promote the equitable & consistent handling of civil and criminal cases.