starting to look at my FCC paper

Friday, April 16, 2004, at 11:41AM

By Eric Richardson

I've talked a couple times now about the FCC, Congress, and attempts to extend broadcast regulations to cable, satellite, and possibly the Internet. I'm actually looking at all this for a paper I have to do for a writing class. The paper is supposed to be a position paper. Mine is going to be a letter to Congress telling them why they shouldn't (and can't, but Congress doesn't like to hear that) extend the rules to new mediums. Over the last few days I've been putting sources together and such, so now it's time to actually sit down and start outlining my argument.

Of course, once I started that it quickly got too big for one post. I'm going to post this in sections, and then once it's all done I'll probably pull it together to archive it somewhere.

First, just a comment -- Were this a real letter to Congress I don't know if a strategy of citing Supreme Court cases would be the way to go. Click for more about that...

Sure, it's the right way legally; the Court's been pretty clear about the constitutionality of differentiation between mediums, and if Congress wants to go against that they're going to get their legislation slapped by the Court. But that doesn't really matter to Congress. As a professor I had last year said, Congress doesn't care about the constitutionality of its legislation. They're happy to get a bill deemed unconstitutional by the Court, go back and change a few words that really don't mean anything, and then pass it again only for the Court to issue a one line ruling along the lines of "See what we said last time." Congress doesn't like to hear that they aren't the final law.

See what I wrote about section 504 of S.151 last year for more about that.

Speaking of good old S.151, it got signed into law April 30, 2003, and became Public Law No: 108-21. It's hard to find any more info since then, though. A few porn sites cite it in their "you must be 21 to enter" pages to stay clear of the misleading domain names provision, but that's about it.