SF Liberation Radio's Day in Court

The initial (AP) report of San Francisco Liberation Radio’s court hearing yesterday – on its motion to reclaim equipment seized in a raid last October – are somewhat vague. Liberation Radio’s using this motion as a plank on which to mount a challenge to the FCC’s enforcement protocols: it claims it was denied due process (i.e. it was not given a proper avenue for redress of its grievances before the cops moved in and took its stuff).
AP reporter Ron Harris describes the arguments of SFLR’s attorney as “meandering,” and the meat’s in the last line of the story: “[U.S. District Judge Susan] Illston took the station’s request to dismiss the seizure under submission, but gave no indication when she would rule.”
SFLR says it has more solid standing than most challengers to the FCC’s restrictive licensing regulations because it has attempted to apply for a license (more than once, including filing for an LPFM license). However, the station did broadcast for some time before it undertook those steps, and the FCC may be able to use that initial broadcast period to argue that the station has no claim to raise its challenge.
It is the same trap that befell the Dunifer case, and many others: failing to exhaust administrative remedies disqualifies most regulatory challenges in the federal courts. While SFLR did attempt to go through the remedies, the FCC may focus on the fact that it belatedly did so (after it had begun broadcasts), and may focus on this distinction to try and get the case tossed.
Liberation Radio is online-only at this time with a limited broadcast schedule.