ISPs ask 6th Circuit to uphold FCC’s net neutrality rules

Net neutrality

“This Court should remain the FCC’s final straw pending judicial review. The petitioners are highly likely to succeed on the merits.

ISPs ask 6th Circuit to uphold FCC's net neutrality rules
Photo Potter Stewart US Courthouse in Cincinnati, Ohio

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2024 – Major internet service providers went to court on Monday to block new net neutrality rules that are scheduled to go into effect next month.

If successful, ISPs would stop the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing a range of open internet rules, including prohibitions on ISPs blocking and throttling legal content or accepting payments for an ISP to allow content to be prioritized.

Joint request for internet service providers to remain

On Monday, trade associations Comcast, Charter, AT&T and Verizon asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati for a stay. The groups said the FCC’s rules would cause irreparable harm and cause internet service providers to delay or abandon new offerings and expansion plans.

“This court should remain the FCC’s last resort pending judicial review. “Petitioners are highly likely to succeed on the merits,” the ISPs said in a 39-page filing.

Groups supporting the suspension request included: USTelecom, NCTA, CTIA, ACA Connects and the Florida Internet & Television Association.

The Democratic-controlled FCC first adopted net neutrality rules in 2015, only to have them rescinded three years later by the Republican-controlled FCC.

The FCC adopted the latest rules on April 25. Net neutrality rules are scheduled to enter into force on July 22, 2024.

Under the regulations, ISPs are classified as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. ISPs want to be treated as less regulated entities under Title I of the same act.

Last Friday, the FCC asked the Sixth Circuit to remand the case to the D.C. Circuit due to the D.C. Circuit’s long involvement in net neutrality litigation. Also on Friday, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau declined to uphold the rules, acting at the request of many of the same ISPs that have now appealed to the Sixth Circuit.

According to an industry source, ISPs will oppose moving the case to the DC circuit. The FCC did not comment on ISPs’ immediate request to suspend operations.

In their motion, the ISPs asked the Sixth Circuit to rule on their stay by July 15.

“If the Court cannot deliver a judgment by then, the petitioners request an administrative stay. “The petitioners demand at least an expedited hearing and argument,” the ISPs said.

ISPs have proposed a check-in schedule starting September 5. They also asked the court to “give oral arguments at the first available hearing following the conclusion of the briefing.”

In Monday’s suspension motion, the ISPs said the FCC’s rules violated the Supreme Court’s Principal Questions Doctrine, which required the FCC to show Congress’s express authority to adopt rules of enormous economic and political significance.

“The economic and political importance to which the FCC ascribes its authority is astonishing by any measure,” the ISPs said. “And because the FCC cannot point to express congressional authority to apply common carrier regulations to the Internet, this order is unlawful.”