Court's Refusal to Stay FCC Net Neutrality Rul Only a Temporary Victory

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2015-06-13 Print this article Print
Net Neutrality Stay

"For this reason, we will continue to challenge the FCC's regulatory regime — both in the courts and by working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Our next step will be to file an amicus brief with the Court on why the FCC’s actions were unlawful and we continue to believe that the Court will ultimately invalidate these rules."

Meanwhile, now that Congress is finished bickering about the trade deal, the House Appropriations Committee is about to report to the House a bill that would stop any use of appropriated funds by the FCC to implement or enforce the Title II reclassification. It's not clear exactly if that would have any practical effect considering that the FCC has already done the implementation, unless it was to expend those funds to reverse the regulatory change.

Groups in favor of the reclassification to Title II are happy that the court refused to stay the FCC's order. "Today’s decision clears the path for the FCC’s historic network neutrality rules to go into effect tomorrow, ensuring that the Internet will continue to be a level playing field for entrepreneurship, public debate, civic participation, and innovation," Sarah Morris, public policy counsel for New America said in prepared statement.

While it's nice to hear such statements from all sides claiming victory in a politically polarized Washington, the fact is that such celebrations are premature. What's actually happened is that the court decided that there wasn't enough cause for it to take the unusual step of calling an immediate halt to a normal function of government. Ordering such a stay would only happen if one side or the other could show immediate and irreparable damage that couldn't be undone.

But the fact is that the FCC can be reversed and the damage can be repaired if the court decides that the FCC was out of bounds. In fact it happens all the time, as was the case in the previous net neutrality case when Verizon sued the FCC over the same issue. Verizon survived and so did the FCC for that matter.

If the court decides that the FCC overstepped its bounds, it will reverse the Title II reclassification, If the court doesn't think the FCC is wrong, then the regulations will remain in force while the losing side appeals. Either way the decision is sure to be appealed until it's decided on by the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately for the FCC, so far it's batting zero on the issue legally sustaining its enforcement of net neutrality regulations and there's no reason to think the court will change its mind this time around.

Maybe it's time to trot out legislation, which has been skulking around Congress for a while, that assigns net neutrality its place in the law without shoehorning it into Title II.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel