Monday, January 14, 2008

Vegas judge rules for free speech - Updated

By Libby

I think Capt Ed is off course on this post. He implies that Kucinich pulled a fast one on a gullible state judge in taking legal action to force NBC to honor their invitation to the Las Vegas debate. He couches it as a constitutional breach and an infringement on private property rights that belonged in a federal court. I doubt that's true. NBC could certainly get emergency appellate relief if jurisdiction was that clear an issue.

Not knowing the particulars I'm guessing they brought the complaint forward on contractual grounds based on the physical venue of the event. I might also remind Ed that while the company owns the broadcast rights, they're airing it on public airwaves and I assume operate under a state charter. If they fail to meet the terms on that level, I would think it would make the federal claims secondary to the primary complaint.

In any event, I think it's a good decision. The television stations have a contractual duty to provide public information as a trade off for free access to the spectrum. That especially includes providing a forum for all political candidates. Kucinich is a named candidate on the ballot and has every right to make his case to the people on a platform they're paying for. The media shouldn't be allowed to dictate access to the airwaves on matters of public concern.

Update: Well although I'm guilty of making my judgment without having studied the complaint or attempting to parse the underlying laws, Glenn Greenwald analyzes the legalese this morning and it appears my guess on how it played out was a pretty good one. The takeaway point is this wasn't a case of judicial activism on any level and the wingers should stop trying to turn every decision they disagree with into a judicial showdown.

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