New Mexico legislators have introduced a resolution asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take immediate action to protect the First Amendment rights of broadcasters.
In the resolution, Rep. Michael Zadroga (R-New Mexico) and Rep. Steve Gabbard (D-Arizona) write that the commission has no jurisdiction over media companies, and it has “overstepped its legal authority.”
The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Dan McCaul (R) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R), states that the FCC “must protect the rights of all Americans to watch and participate in our nation’s free and open discourse.”
It notes that the Communications Act of 1934 states that no federal agency has the authority to interfere with the free flow of information and communication.
“If the FCC wants to protect First Amendment freedoms, they must take action immediately,” Zadogas resolution states.
“Instead, they are failing to protect our most precious constitutional freedoms.
They must enforce their own law and protect the Constitution from all threats.
That is what Congress intended when it passed the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which established the First, Second and Fourteenth Amendments.”
The FCC does not have the power to interfere directly with the transmission of any information, the resolution states, but it can issue subpoenas to broadcast and cable stations that are violating FCC rules.
“In short, the FCC has no authority to prevent the airing of the views of broadcasters or other media outlets, except in extreme cases, and has never, as a matter of law, imposed such an order,” Zadoras resolution reads.
“As the Commission has repeatedly stated, it has no power to regulate the content of broadcasters’ broadcasts.
This is a clear violation of the First and Second Amendments of the United States Constitution.”
The motion to begin a rulemaking on the FCC’s power to prohibit media outlets from airing their views was introduced in July, when FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans to repeal the Communications Policy Act of 2015.
“The FCC has never sought to regulate, censor or even limit speech.
As a result, the commission’s current efforts to regulate are ill-advised and have the potential to undermine the First amendment freedoms of all people,” the resolution says.
“Rather than allowing the FCC to censor, regulate or limit speech, the Commission must focus on the First-Amendment protections that were intended to protect speech.”
“The First Amendment protects the right of all citizens to freely express themselves without fear of government interference.
If the FCC can’t protect that right, it must not exist at all,” the motion continues.
The FCC is currently investigating Fox News for broadcasting false news stories.
It’s unclear whether the commission will take any action against the network.