WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court on Monday threw out a lower court ruling in favor of a black media mogul and comedian who’s suing cable giant Comcast alleging racial discrimination.
The justices agreed unanimously that an appeals court applied the wrong legal standard in allowing business owner Byron Allen’s $20 billion suit against Comcast to go forward. Allen has a separate $10 billion suit against Charter Communications that the justices' decision also affects.
A federal appeals court in San Francisco had said that Allen needed to show that race was among the factors in Comcast's decision not to offer him a contract. But the Supreme Court said that Allen has to show that race was the decisive factor in the cable companies' refusal to carry his television channels. Comcast has said it declined to carry the channels because the programming isn’t very good.
Comcast, which is based in Philadelphia, said in a statement it was pleased with the justices' decision.
Allen's lawyer had said previously he would go forward with the case no matter what the Supreme Court decided Allen needed to show. In a statement Monday, Allen called the ruling “harmful to the civil rights of millions of Americans.”
Allen’s Los Angeles-based Entertainment Studios has several television networks including Cars.tv, Comedy.tv, Pets.tv, Recipe.tv and JusticeCentral.tv. Allen also owns The Weather Channel and a movie distribution company.
The Supreme Court announced its decision in an opinion posted online. Typically the justices take the bench to announce opinions, which are then made available online, but the justices didn't take the bench Monday because of the coronavirus. The court previously announced that arguments scheduled for this week and next would be postponed because of the virus. And the court building is currently closed to the public.