Verizon Communications has taken its second stab at overturning the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) network neutrality regulations that were approved in December 2010. The lawsuit was filed on Friday in the Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. Circuit. Finally, these burdensome regulations will finally receive the judicial scrutiny they deserve.
Let’s review a brief history about these regulations and review the context in which this lawsuit has been filed. The FCC passed network neutrality regulations just days before Christmas. Seemingly, the hope was that the American people were too preoccupied with holiday trimmings and feasts to concentrate on the federal government’s most recent regulatory overreach.
Verizon tried suing to overturn the new regulations almost immediately, asserting that the FCC does not have the authority to regulate the Internet, but the court ruled that the lawsuit was premature because the rules had not yet been published in the Federal Register. The rules have now been published, so Verizon has filed its lawsuit again, this time with much greater hopes of success.
The D.C. Circuit is no stranger to FCC regulations, as it has special jurisdiction to hear certain FCC cases. In fact, in April 2010 the panel unanimously ruled in Comcast vs. FCC that the FCC did not have the authority to force Internet service providers to adhere to network neutrality standards.
The fact that the FCC and the Obama Administration has completely ignored the rulings of the Courts, the advice of Congress, and the will of the American people should no longer surprise us. Let’s hope that the judicial process will uphold the freedom for Internet providers to continue to serve their customers in the innovative and unprecedented ways.