Supreme Court Rules on Janet Jackson Super Bowl Wardrobe Malfunction

Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterJune 29, 2012

Photo Credit: USA Today
Photo Credit: USA Today

We can finally put that business of Janet Jackson's breast to bed, because the Supreme Court has decided they have had just about all they can take. 

The Associated Press reports the high court will not, "consider reinstating the government's $550,000 fine on CBS" for the now-famous wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl

That's right. One day after making headlines for a pivotal decision which affect millions of Americans in the form of health care policy, the Supreme Court was ruling on nothing more than tiddlywinks. 

Granted, a sum of $550,000 isn't nothing, but it's remarkable we are still talking about the infamous breast-reveal of Jackson nearly a decade later. 

That's how feverishly the FCC have been after their money, and how fervently CBS has fought from the other side. 

The fine has been making its way to the high court for some time, and it was recently thrown out twice in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Photo Credit: Penn Live
Photo Credit: Penn Live

That court found the claims rather flimsy when considering the context of other images and expletives that found their way to screen around the same time. From the report: 

The appeals court said FCC's policy of excusing fleeting instances of indecent words and images appeared to change without notice in March 2004, a month after Jackson's halftime act. The judges said that made the agency's action against CBS "arbitrary and capricious."

It seems the court doesn't take too kindly to the FCC merely making an example of a very famous moment. 

However, there was a wagging of the finger from Chief Justice John Roberts. 

"It is now clear that the brevity of an indecent broadcast—be it word or image—cannot immunize it from FCC censure," he said. "Any future `wardrobe malfunctions' will not be protected on the ground relied on by the court below."

In addition, Roberts said that calling it a "wardrobe malfunction" when Justin Timberlake ripped away part of Jackson's bustier "strained the credulity of the public."

Photo Credit: Media Law Monitor
Photo Credit: Media Law Monitor

So don't go planning a nip slip or a tear-away wardrobe for your next halftime show, because the high court will not be there to dig you out of your hole a decade later. 

And really, I think it's about time we put this foolishness aside forever. 

Was anyone's life completely ruined by the moment that was more bizarre than lewd. Thank you for trying to coddle and keep us warm and safe from the nasty things in life, FCC. 

But I agree with the ruling in that it seems rather arbitrary what is and isn't allowed on TV nowadays. 

But if we are looking for a list to check off before offering programming seen by tens of millions, I guess we now have to include Janet Jackson's boob, just to be safe. 

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