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Friday Roundup

Dirty Talk.  As I mentioned earlier this week, the big showdown in the US Supreme Court was Tuesday's oral argument in FCC v. Fox, the case involving the FCC's recently-developed policy of punishing "fleeting expletives" in broadcast media.  (Discussed here.)  The anticipatory buzz was the prospect of the lawyers and justices batting around the forbidden words -- "fuck" and "shit" in this case -- causing John Marshall to turn over in his grave, or at least giggle a lot.  In fact, Justice Roberts had taken the caution of announcing that the audio of the argument, which is usually released within an hour, would be withheld, probably out of fear that some enterprising soul would do some creative splicing, and the internet would be flooded by the end of the week with .mp3's of Scalia seeming to say, "Fuck... Souter."

The fears proved unfounded, with nary a dirty word passing anybody's lips.  For those of you keeping score at home (the transcript of the argument can be found here), the euphemism count broke down as follows:  "F-word" was used sixteen times, "S-word" six, and "F-bomb" on a solitary occasion, courtesy of Solicitor-General Garre arguing that rejection of the FCC policy posed the specter of "Big Bird dropping the F-bomb on Sesame Street."  Better that than the S-word, I suppose.

That other F-word -- First Amendment -- found its way into the argument fifteen times, mostly in discussion of how the Court might avoid dealing with it.  That's somewhat understandable; the 2nd District, from whence the case originated, had refused to consider the issue as well, deciding the case solely as a question of administrative law and procedure.

So what's the likely outcome?  The Smart Guys over at SCOTUSBlog break it down for us:

It seemed possible that the Court’s majority would find the Second Circuit was somehow wrong, but that the Court might not want to flatly reverse because that would validate the current FCC policy without further justification, and it was not clear there would be a majority for that.  Could it be that the Court might simply affirm, but make the opinion so narrow as not to decide anything finally, until after the FCC reexamines its policy, and there is then another round in the courts? Or, indeed, might the Justices decide it was premature for them to have gotten involved?

Well, I guess that settles that, huh?

Bizarro World.  Courtesy of Overlawyered comes this story about Jonathan Lee Riches, who's currently an inmate of a South Carolina prison.  To occupy his time, he sues people -- George Bush, Michael Vick, Barry Bonds, the Eiffel Tower.  (Which of those is not like the other?)  His latest is against the manufacturer of a video game called World of Warcraft, which, according to the complaint,

caused Riches mind to live in a virtual universe, where Riches explored the landscape committing identity theft and fighting cybermonster rival hacker gangs.  Riches was addicted to video games and lost touch with reality because of defendants.  This caused Riches to commit fraud to buy defendants video games.  Riches chose World of Warcraft over working a legit job. Riches mind became a living video game.

Maybe next time Riches can sue the producers of Fox's Prison Break because they didn't take him along.

I wanna be elected.  A Democratic tide on Tuesday couldn't lift the boats of the two candidates for Ohio Supreme Court; they got swamped by 2-1 margins by the Republican incumbents, Maureen O'Connor and Evelyn Stratton, leaving us with an all-GOP lineup there.

In other election news, Cash America didn't waste any time announcing that it was shuttering its 43 stores in the wake of Tuesday's vote capping payday lenders' interest rates at 28%, down from a slightly more remunerative 391% annual rate. 

I've got mixed feelings on this.  On the one hand, these lenders did perform a service.  Try walking into a bank and getting them to loan you a couple hundred dollars until Friday's paycheck comes in.  And there's the standard libertarian argument about how government shouldn't interject itself into relationships between two freely-contracting parties, just to protect one of them.  On the other, that whole argument had too much of a taste of court decisions in the early 1900's rejecting wage, hour, and other labor protections, on the essential grounds that if 12-year-olds wanted to work in the coal mines, they should be free to do so.

See you on Monday.

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