Cantwell, Murray, Colleagues File Amicus Brief Challenging FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined 25 of their Senate colleagues and 76 members of the U.S. House of Representatives to file an amicus brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to eliminate net neutrality rules. The FCC’s December 2017 decision repealed the 2015 Open Internet Order, which established net neutrality by categorizing broadband internet access as a telecommunications service and prohibiting Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from engaging in discriminatory practices, such as blocking or throttling online content and establishing internet fast and slow lanes.

“[T]he FCC’s reclassification decision in its 2017 Order is based entirely in the misuse of language,” the members of Congress wrote in their brief. “It is divorced from the practical realities that supported the FCC’s 2015 classification decision. And it leads immediately to absurd results. It is an abuse of discretion which this Court should overturn.”

In the brief, the members of Congress argue that under the plain language of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, internet providers offer a telecommunications service. Congress also intended that the definition of “telecommunications service” be applicable to changing technologies and markets on a technologically-neutral and forward-looking basis. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals previously upheld the Open Internet Order in 2016.

Both Cantwell and Murray have been leaders in the Senate to establish and protect net neutrality and equal access to the internet. Cantwell was an early advocate for the FCC to protect net neutrality and used her position on the Commerce Committee to keep continuous pressure on the Commission during the drafting and implementation of the Open Internet Order and net neutrality rules. Both Cantwell and Murray urged the FCC to delay the net neutrality vote pending its impact on students and schools. Additionally, after the FCC repealed the 2015 Open Internet Order, Cantwell – joined by Murray – led passage of a Congressional Review Act resolution to restore net neutrality protections and has called on the House of Representatives to do the same.

In addition to Cantwell and Murray, U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Brian Schatz, (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Angus King (I-ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also signed onto the amicus brief.

The full text of the amicus brief can be found HERE.