United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc.

On May 22, 2000 in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a U.S. District Court decision that Section 505 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 violated the First Amendment when it sought to restrict certain cable channels with sexually explicit content to late night hours unless they fully scrambled their signal bleed. In an opinion written by Justice Kennedy, the Court ruled that the government may have a legitimate interest of protecting children from exposure to “indecent material.” However, Section 505 is a content-based speech restriction and, therefore, must be the least restrictive means for meeting the governmental interest. The Court found that Section 505 is not the least restrictive means.

Justice Kennedy was joined by Justices Stevens, Souter, Thomas and Ginsburg. Justice Breyer wrote the dissent joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia and O’Connor.

Oral argument was heard in the case before the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. on November 30, 1999. Media Coalition filed one of four amicus briefs, and three briefs were filed supporting the government.