Litigation Update: IJ Appeals North Dakota Micro-Radio Case To High Court

July 2001

Litigation Update: IJ Appeals North Dakota Micro-Radio Case To High Court

On June 12, the Institute for Justice submitted a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to hear the case of micro-broadcaster Roy Neset.  The petition highlights the crucial question raised by Roy’s case:  can the government stop a person from broadcasting without allowing the accused to defend himself by raising his constitutional rights?

That is exactly the unfair practice the government followed with Roy Neset, a North Dakota farmer who broadcast a low-power radio signal from his own house to his tractor when he grew tired of his one local radio station.  The Federal Communications Commission sued Roy in federal court, but he was not permitted to raise a First Amendment defense and was ultimately shut down.

Our petition makes the sensible point that when the federal government decides to sue you in federal court, you should be permitted to defend yourself there by raising all applicable defenses, especially constitutional ones.  The law in this area is unsettled (the Eighth and Sixth circuits have come to opposite conclusions about where constitutional defenses may be raised), increasing the chances that the Supreme Court will accept the case for review.

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