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Columbia Broadcasting System v. Democratic National Committee
United States Supreme Court
412 U.S. 94 (1973)
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and an association called Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace (BEM) (plaintiffs) tried unsuccessfully to buy airtime to express views on social and political issues. The DNC brought a lawsuit against the Columbia Broadcasting System (defendant) asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to declare that broadcasters could not refuse to sell airtime to entities like the DNC to raise funds and disseminate commentary on public issues. The BEM brought a similar suit against Washington, D.C., radio station WTOP (defendant). The FCC issued simultaneous orders in both suits refusing to declare that the broadcaster had to sell the DNC and BEM airtime. The DNC and BEM both appealed. The appellate court reversed in both cases, reasoning that a broadcaster enforcing a fixed policy of refusing editorial advertisements violated the First Amendment. The Supreme Court consolidated the appeals and granted review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)
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