FOX TELEVISION STATIONS, INC.Syllabusbility to Fox and ABC, the Commission issued its
Or-der, declaring for the first time that fleeting expletives could be ac-tionable. It then concluded that the Fox and ABC broadcasts violatedthis new standard. It found the Fox broadcasts indecent, but de-clined to propose forfeitures. The Second Circuit reversed, findingthe Commission’s decision to modify its indecency enforcement re-gime to regulate fleeting expletives arbitrary and capricious. ThisCourt reversed and remanded for the Second Circuit to address re-spondents’ First Amendment challenges.
Fox Television Sta-tions, Inc.
, 556 U. S. 502. On remand, the Second Circuit found thepolicy unconstitutionally vague and invalidated it in its entirety. Inthe ABC case, the Commission found the display actionably indecent,and imposed a $27,500 forfeiture on each of the 45 ABC-affiliatedstations that aired the episode. The Second Circuit vacated the orderin light of its
Because the Commission failed to give Fox or ABC fair noticeprior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and mo-mentary nudity could be found actionably indecent, the Commission’sstandards as applied to these broadcasts were vague. Pp. 11–18.(a) The fundamental principle that laws regulating persons or enti-ties must give fair notice of what conduct is required or proscribed,see,
General Constr. Co.
, 269 U. S. 385, 391, is essen-tial to the protections provided by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Pro-cess Clause, see
, 553 U. S. 285, 304, whichrequires the invalidation of impermissibly vague laws. A convictionor punishment fails to comply with due process if the statute or regu-lation under which it is obtained “fails to provide a person of ordinaryintelligence fair notice of what is prohibited, or is so standardlessthat it authorizes or encourages seriously discriminatory enforce-ment.”
The void for vagueness doctrine addresses at least twoconnected but discrete due process concerns: Regulated partiesshould know what is required of them so they may act accordingly;and precision and guidance are necessary so that those enforcing thelaw do not act in an arbitrary or discriminatory way. When speech isinvolved, rigorous adherence to those requirements is necessary toensure that ambiguity does not chill protected speech. Pp. 11–12.(b) These concerns are implicated here, where the broadcastersclaim that the lengthy procedural history of their cases shows thatthey did not have fair notice of what was forbidden. Under the 2001Guidelines in force when the broadcasts occurred, a key considerationwas “whether the material dwell[ed] on or repeat[ed] at length” theoffending description or depiction, but in the 2004
Or-der, issued after the broadcasts, the Commission changed course andheld that fleeting expletives could be a statutory violation. It then