Appeal of FCC Net Neutrality Decision Heard in Federal Court
NEWS ANALYSIS: Federal appeals panel hears plaintiffs' arguments challenging the legality of the FCC's Open Internet order in an unusual 3-hour session.The future of the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet order is in the hands of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The panel heard arguments on Dec. 4 challenging the FCC's decision to reclassify the Internet as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act. Challengers are claiming that the FCC exceeded its authority and that the agency violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The challenges involve the FCC's reclassification of wired Internet, the classification of mobile Internet as a common carrier, the use of forbearance by the FCC to exclude certain parts of the Communications Act from enforcement. Some of the plaintiffs are also claiming the decision violates the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. "The issue is whether the FCC's actions are supported by the law," said Brookings Institution Fellow Stuart Brotman. "We're out of the policy domain and into the legal domain," he said, explaining that the FCC has to be able to show conclusively how its actions are supported by current legislation.
In addition, the FCC has to show that it adhered to the Administrative Procedure Act, since its actions are being challenged on claims that it didn't follow the requirements of that law. It's worth noting that the APA is a very big deal to the courts because it controls how the agencies of the federal government apply due process in their day-to-day operations. The APA applies to all agencies of the government, not just to the FCC.