Washington (August 28, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) and 27 U.S. Senators and 76 members of the House of Representatives filed an Amicus Brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) December 2017 decision to eliminate net neutrality rules. The FCC’s decision repealed the 2015 Open Internet rules, which categorized broadband internet access as a telecommunications service and prohibited Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from engaging in discriminatory practices, such as blocking or throttling online content and establishing internet fast and slow lanes.   


“In sum, the FCC’s reclassification decision in its 2017 Order is based entirely in the misuse of language,” write the members of Congress 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.” 


A copy of the Amicus Brief can be found HERE.


In their amicus brief, the members of Congress, several of whom were instrumental in enacting the Telecommunications Act of 1996, state that under the plain language of the Act, 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.


“Both the plain language and Congressional intent behind the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that Congresswoman Eshoo and I helped author make clear that today, broadband access to the internet is a telecommunications service,” said Senator Markey. “But Chairman Pai and his Republican FCC colleagues ignored the statute, our intent, and consumer perception when it reclassified broadband back to an information service and eviscerated net neutrality rules. They are on the wrong side of history. Whether in the halls of Congress or the halls of the courts, the fight for net neutrality is the fight for our online future, and we will prevail.”


“The Internet is one of the greatest inventions in human history and it’s an American invention. It’s our responsibility to protect it as a force to drive innovation, expand our economy, and promote free speech and our democracy,” said Rep. Eshoo. “Over 20 years ago, Senator Markey and I served as conferees in the lead up to the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act which was written to be technologically neutral and forward-looking. As Members of Congress charged with overseeing the FCC, we are uniquely situated to spell out to the Court exactly what Congress intended by the Communications Act. It was established that there would always be a cop on the beat to protect the public in communications, regardless of advances in technology. That is what our brief sets out for the Court.”


Senator Markey and Rep. Eshoo previously led Senate and House Democrats in a 2015 amicus brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet rules. The Court upheld those rules in 2016.


Other Senators signing the Amicus are: Democratic Leader Chuck E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Angus S. King, Jr. (I-Maine), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Margaret Wood Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).


Other House members signing the Amicus are: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Frank Pallone, Jr., Michael F. Doyle, Janice D. Schakowsky, Peter Welch, Zoe Lofgren, Mark Takano, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ro Khanna, José E. Serrano, Adam Smith, Jared Huffman, Peter DeFazio, Maxine Waters, Pramila Jayapal, Jerry McNerney, Jamie Raskin, Tulsi Gabbard, Hakeem S. Jeffries, Mike Thompson, John Lewis, Yvette D. Clarke, Charlie Crist, Adriano Espaillat, James P. McGovern, Nydia M. Velázquez, Mark Pocan, Chellie Pingree, Jacki Speier, Sean Patrick Maloney, Keith Ellison, Lloyd Doggett, Joe Courtney, Raúl M. Grijalva, Daniel T. Kildee, Joseph Crowley, Betty McCollum, Jacky Rosen, Stephen F. Lynch, Earl Blumenauer, David E. Price, Alan S. Lowenthal, Marcy Kaptur, André Carson, Jimmy Panetta, Joseph P. Kennedy III, Barbara Lee, Steve Cohen, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Lucille Roybal-Allard, Albio Sires, Carolyn B. Maloney, Mark DeSaulnier, Sheila Jackson Lee, Rosa L. DeLauro, Danny K. Davis, Gregorio Kilili, Camacho Sablan, John P. Sarbanes, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Richard M. Nolan, Suzanne Bonamici, Seth Moulton, Diana DeGette, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Kathy Castor, Colleen Hanabusa, John Yarmuth, Jerrold Nadler, Katherine Clark, Grace Meng, William R. Keating, Doris Matsui, David N. Cicilline, and John B. Larson.