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Compelling Constitutional Conversations


Will the Courts block the FCC ending Net Neutrality?

Dec 22, 2017

-by Jennifer Conway 

Tim Wu, the father of net neutrality, believes only the courts can stop it now. In a New York Times op-ed Wu wrote:

"In our times, the judiciary has increasingly become a majoritarian force. It alone, it seems, can prevent narrow, self-interested factions from getting the government to serve unseemly and even shameful ends. And so it falls to the judiciary to stop this latest travesty.

As the Supreme Court has said, a federal agency must 'examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action. Given that net neutrality rules have been a huge success by most measures, the justification for killing them would have to be very strong.

It isn’t. In fact, it’s very weak.”


FCC Chairman Pai's explanation for repealing net neutrality (Full speech)


Phillip Berenbroick, senior policy counsel with the nonprofit Public Knowledge:

“There will be multiple lawsuits in multiple locations.”


And so begins the lawsuits. Free Press, Public Knowledge, and other public-interest groups, as well as multiple state attorneys general have announced plans to sue. Netflix announces this is the “beginning of a longer legal battle.” 



If by chance you have not heard of net neutrality, or don’t understand what all the uproar is about, Mathematician and YouTuber ViHart’s 12-minute video gives the best description of how it works and why the reversal would be bad for consumers.


“Expect a "slow burn," said Ryan Singel, media and strategy fellow at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society.

"We're not immediately going to see ISPs offering crazy cable-style packages," he said. "The cable companies can see the writing on the wall. What ISPs have wanted to do for a long time is figure out a way to charge additional fees for services online just to get to users at all."

"What we have brought today will one day be apparent and by then, when you really wake up and see what has changed, I fear it may be too late to do anything about it," said Mignon Clyburn, one of the two FCC commissioners who voted against the repeal.

Can it still be stopped?

States like California and Washington announce they will create their own net neutrality rules.  Rep. Mike Doyle (PA-D) and Senator Ed Markey (MA-D) plan to introduce legislation to overturn the FCC action. Under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), Democrats will ask Congress to reverse the FCC’s ruling. 

It may work. Anti-net neutrality legislation is very unpopular by both Democratic and Republican consumers. The FCC received about 22 million comments, with the sweeping majority of comments against repealing net neutrality. As far as consumers are concerned, this is a bipartisan issue.

"Republicans calling for net neutrality is novel, so it pays to take notice," wrote analysts at MoffettNathanson in a research note. "It is less surprising that an army of Democrats also have stepped forward to decry the FCC's Order. As we noted a few weeks ago, if one squints hard enough, one can almost imagine… wait for it… bipartisanship."



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