Aug. 12, 2020 by Sidney Shapiro

Administrative Procedures and Racism

This post was originally published by the Yale Journal on Regulation's Notice & Comment blog. Reprinted with permission.

In 1958, civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Andrew Young, met in New York with Reverend Everett Parker, who was the Director of the Office of Communications of the United Church of Christ. The Office was an advocacy arm of the church, whose members’ commitment to civil rights dated back to colonial times. The civil rights leaders sought the Office’s assistance because of their concern about the biased coverage of the civil rights movement by Southern television stations. After years of litigation, the meeting led to two decisions in the D.C. Circuit (United Church of Christ I & United Church of Christ II) that blocked efforts by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to relicense WLBT, a Jacksonville, Mississippi television station, which had engaged in news and other programming that were plainly racist.

The cases are remembered today, if they are remembered at all, for a pathbreaking holding that television viewers had a statutory right to intervene in FCC’s license hearings, an issue that the court treated as standing. But they are important for another …

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Aug. 12, 2020

Administrative Procedures and Racism