Justice John Paul Stevens, who turned 89 last week, had a wide grin on his face this morning as he listened to Justice Antonin Scalia talk about Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. The two celebutantes (Hilton and Richie, that is, not the justices) were the “stars” of Fox “reality” show The Simple Life. Scalia mentioned them as he read a summary of his majority opinion in a major obscenity case arising out of Richie saying “fuck” and “shit” at the Billboard awards in 2003. A year earlier, Cher also said “fuck” at the event. Both episodes got Fox TV into trouble.
Stevens seemed to be amused when Scalia recounted Richie’s comments. Scalia first noted to a hushed courtroom that he would not himself say the naughty words (“what we will call the f-word and the s-word,” was his way of putting it).
“Ms. Hilton began their interchange by reminding Ms. Richie to “watch the bad language,” but Ms. Richie proceeded to ask the audience, “Why do they even call it The Simple Life? Have you ever tried to get s-word out of a Prada purse? It’s not so f-ing simple.”
Scalia and a majority of the court concluded that the Federal Communications Commission was within its rights to find Richie’s conduct offensive. Apparently, that was for the swearing, not for her lame attempt at humor.