SABLE COMMUNICATIONS OF CALIFORNIA v. FCC

Print this Page
Case Basics
Docket No. 
88-515
Appellee 
FCC
Appellant 
Sable Communications of California
Consolidation 
No. 88-525
Advocates
(Argued the cause for appellees in No. 88-515 and for appellants in No. 88-525)
(Argued the cause for appellant in No. 88-515 and for appellee in No. 88-525)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

In 1988, Congress amended the Communications Act of 1934 to ban indecent and obscene interstate commercial phone messages. Sable Communications had been in the dial-a-porn business since 1983. A judge in District Court upheld the ban on obscene messages, but enjoined the Act's enforcement against indecent ones.

Question 

Did the amended Communications Act violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

Conclusion 
Decision: 6 votes for FCC, 3 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 47 U.S.C. 223

The Court upheld the District Court's ruling. Since the First Amendment does not protect obscene speech, as the Court found in Paris Adult Theater I v. Slaton (1973), the ban on obscene speech was legitimate. However, sexual expression that is simply indecent is protected. Thus, banning adult access to indecent messages "far exceeds that which is necessary" to shield minors from dial-a-porn services.

Cite this Page
SABLE COMMUNICATIONS OF CALIFORNIA v. FCC. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 04 April 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_88_515>.
SABLE COMMUNICATIONS OF CALIFORNIA v. FCC, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_88_515 (last visited April 4, 2014).
"SABLE COMMUNICATIONS OF CALIFORNIA v. FCC," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed April 4, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_88_515.