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Arkansas Educational Television Commission v. Forbes

Significance, The Events, Editorial Discretion, Or Government Censorship?, The Importance Of Public And Nonpublic Forums


Arkansas Educational Television Commission


Ralph P. Forbes

Petitioner's Claim

Arkansas Educational Television Commission excluded Ralph P. Forbes from participating in their television debate between major political party candidates as an exercise of editorial judgment because Forbes's status as an independent political candidate made him politically unviable and, therefore, not newsworthy.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Richard D. Marks

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Kelly J. Shackleford

Justices for the Court

Stephen Breyer, Anthony M. Kennedy (writing for the Court), Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas

Justices Dissenting

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David H. Souter, John Paul Stevens


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

18 May 1998


Arkansas Educational Television Commission's (AETC) exclusion of Forbes from the debate was a reasonable, viewpoint-neutral exercise of journalistic discretion consistent with the First Amendment.

Related Cases

  • Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Democratic National Committee, 412 U.S. 94 (1973).
  • FCC v. League of Women Voters of California, 468 U.S. 364 (1984).
  • Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC, 512 U.S. 622 (1994).

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan. "High Court Agrees to Review Ruling on Political Debates," Washington Post, March 18, 1997, p. 8.
  • Biskupic, Joan. "Justices Question Barring Fringe Candidates From Debates on Public TV," Washington Post, October 8, 1997, p. 15.
  • Fleming, Heather. "Court Forces Open TV Congressional Debate." Broadcasting & Cable, Sep. 23, 1996, p. 18.

Additional topics

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