Sunday, March 25, 2012

Metro Broadcasting, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission case brief

Metro Broadcasting, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission (1990)
SC held that Affirmative Action programs approved by Congress only needed to meet Intermediate Scrutiny
Facts: Issue re: federal race-based preferences for increasing minority ownership of TV and radio stations. Only 2.1% of these stations minority-owned in 1986. Policy had arisen whereby minority applicants for licenses would get preference, and where a limited number of existing stations could be transferred only to minority controlled firms. FCC’s definition of “minority” included Blacks, Hispanics, American Eskimos, Aleuts, American Indians and Asian Americans.
Holding: Court upheld program by applying intermediate scrutiny, stating that Fullilove did not impose strict scrutiny on the federal program challenged. The court proceeded to adopt intermediate scrutiny as the appropriate standard for assessing federal “benign” racial classifications. Majority said the interest in enhancing diversity in the broadcast industry was an important government objective and the means were substantially related to the achievement of diversity.
Dissent (O’Connor): Said strict scrutiny should apply. Said that the only compelling interest involves remedying the effects of identified racial discrimination, which the FCC could not show.

Croson/Metro Compared:
  • Croson used strict scrutiny, one year later in Metro, intermediate scrutiny used in dealing with 1st A. issues.
  • Stevens switched sides, thought that broadcast would have more of an effect in the future. Distinction b/w forward-looking approach and a remedial one, which he sees as backwards looking.
  • Croson was about the 14th Amendment; Metro was about the 5th Amendment.
  • Brennan wrote opinion in Metro.
  • Court struggles w/EP doctrine and the question of who is the guarantor?

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