Justia Entertainment & Sports Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Supreme Court
Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck
New York requires cable operators to set aside channels for public access. Those channels are operated by the cable operator unless the local government chooses to operate the channels or designates a private entity as the operator. New York City designated a private nonprofit corporation, MNN, to operate public access channels on Time Warner’s Manhattan cable system. Respondents produced a film critical of MNN. MNN televised the film. MNN later suspended Respondents from all MNN services and facilities. They sued, claiming that MNN violated their First Amendment free-speech rights. The Second Circuit partially reversed the dismissal of the suit, concluding that MNN was subject to First Amendment constraints. The Supreme Court reversed in part and remanded. MNN is not a state actor subject to the First Amendment. A private entity may qualify as a state actor when the entity exercises “powers traditionally exclusively reserved to the State” but “very few” functions fall into that category. Operation of public access channels on a cable system has not traditionally and exclusively been performed by government. Providing some kind of forum for speech is not an activity that only governmental entities have traditionally performed and does not automatically transform a private entity into a state actor. The City’s designation of MNN as the operator is analogous to a government license, a government contract, or a government-granted monopoly, none of which converts a private entity into a state actor unless the private entity is performing a traditional, exclusive public function. Extensive regulation does not automatically convert a private entity's action into that of the state. The City does not own, lease, or possess any property interest in the public access channels. View "Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck" on Justia Law
Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) makes it unlawful for a state or its subdivisions “to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact . . . a lottery, sweepstakes, or other betting, gambling, or wagering scheme based . . . on” competitive sporting events, 28 U.S.C. 3702(1), and for “a person to sponsor, operate, advertise, or promote” those same gambling schemes if done “pursuant to the law or compact of a governmental entity,” 3702(2), but does not make sports gambling itself a federal crime. PAPSA allows existing forms of sports gambling to continue in four states. PAPSA would have permitted New Jersey to permit sports gambling in Atlantic City within a year of PASPA’s enactment but New Jersey did not do so. Voters later approved a state constitutional amendment, permitting the legislature to legalize sports gambling in Atlantic City and at horse-racing tracks. In 2014, New Jersey enacted a law that repeals state-law provisions that prohibited gambling schemes concerning wagering on sporting events by persons 21 years of age or older; at a horse-racing track or a casino in Atlantic City; and not involving a New Jersey college team or a collegiate event. The Third Circuit held that the law violated PASPA. The Supreme Court reversed. When a state repeals laws banning sports gambling, it “authorize[s]” those schemes under PASPA. PASPA’s provision prohibiting state authorization of sports gambling schemes violates the anti-commandeering rule. Under the Tenth Amendment, legislative power not conferred on Congress by the Constitution is reserved for the states. Congress may not "commandeer" the state legislative process by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program. PASPA’s anti-authorization provision dictates what a state legislature may and may not do. There is no distinction between compelling a state to enact legislation and prohibiting a state from enacting new laws. Nor does the anti-authorization provision constitute a valid preemption provision because it is not a regulation of private actors. It issues a direct order to the state legislature. View "Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association" on Justia Law
Brown, et al. v. Entertainment Merchants Assn. et al.
Respondents, representing the video game and software industries, filed a preenforcement challenge to California Assembly Bill 1179 (Act), Cal. Civ. Code Ann. 1746-1746.5, which restricted the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. At issue was whether the Act comported with the First Amendment. The Court held that, because the Act imposed a restriction on the content of protected speech, it was invalid unless California could demonstrate that it passed strict scrutiny. The Court held that California had a legitimate interest in addressing a serious social problem and helping concerned parents control their children. The Court held, however, that as a means of protecting children from portrayals of violence, the legislation was seriously underinclusive, not only because it excluded portrayals other than video games, but also because it permitted a parental or avuncular veto. The Court also held that, as a means of assisting concerned parents, it was seriously overinclusive because it abridged the First Amendment rights of young people whose parents think violent video games were a harmless pastime. The Court further held that the overbreadth in achieving one goal was not cured by the overbreadth in achieving the other and therefore, the legislation could not survive strict scrutiny. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the Ninth Circuit enjoining the Act's enforcement. View "Brown, et al. v. Entertainment Merchants Assn. et al." on Justia Law