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Law School Case Brief

Metro Broad. v. FCC - 497 U.S. 547, 110 S. Ct. 2997 (1990)

Rule:

The United States Supreme Court upholds benign racial classifications that serve important governmental objectives and are substantially related to achievement of those objectives. Benign race-conscious measures mandated by Congress -- even if those measures are not "remedial" in the sense of being designed to compensate victims of past governmental or societal discrimination -- are constitutionally permissible to the extent that they serve important governmental objectives within the power of Congress and are substantially related to achievement of those objectives.

Facts:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implemented a program awarding an enhancement for minority ownership in comparative proceedings for new licenses, and a minority "distress sale" program permitting a limited category of existing radio and television broadcast stations to be transferred only to minority-controlled firms. In consolidated cases, petitioner Metro broadcasting company unsuccessfully challenged FCC's enhancement policy awarding preferences to minority owners in comparative licensing proceedings, and in the second case, respondent Shurberg broadcasting company successfully challenged FCC's minority distress sale policy. 

Issue:

Did the FCC's minority preference policies violate the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the FCC's minority ownership policies did not violate equal protection principles because they bore the imprimatur of longstanding congressional support and direction and were substantially related to the achievement of the important governmental objective of broadcast diversity. Court remanded cases for proceedings consistent with its opinion.

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