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Litigation Update: United States Telecom Association v. Federal Communications Commission

Telecommunications & Electronic Media Practice Group Teleforum Friday, June 02, 02:00 PMFederalist Society Teleforum Conference Call

On May 1, the D.C. Circuit denied petitions for en banc review of United States Telecom Association v. Federal Communications Commission. The petitioners challenge the FCC’s Open Internet Order, in which the FCC established Internet access as a telecommunications service subject to Title II of the Communications Act and adopted net neutrality rules.  At the same time, the new Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has announced that he plans to reclassify Internet access as a Title I information service and roll back some of the net neutrality rules.

Daniel Berninger, one of the petitioners in the case, and Adam White, who has been counsel for the intervenors, will join us to discuss the status of the case. In particular, they will discuss the D.C. Circuit’s order denying rehearing, the concurring opinion by Judges Srinivasan and Tatel, the dissenting opinions from Judges Brown and Kavanaugh, the pending FCC rulemaking, and the potential for Supreme Court review of the D.C. Circuit’s decision affirming the FCC’s Open Internet Order. Brett Shumate, counsel to petitioners Alamo Broadband and Daniel Berninger, will moderate the discussion.

Featuring:

  • Daniel Berninger, Founder, VCXC - Voice Communication Exchange Committee 
  • Adam J. White, Research Fellow, The Hoover Institution and Adjunct Professor, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University
  • Moderator: Brett A. Shumate, Partner, Wiley Rein LLP

The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone - Podcast

Telecommunications & Electronic Media Practice Group Podcast
Thomas W. Hazlett May 12, 2017

Popular legend has it that before the Federal Radio Commission was established in 1927, the radio spectrum was in chaos, with broadcasting stations blasting powerful signals to drown out rivals. In this fascinating and entertaining history, Prof. Thomas Winslow Hazlett, a distinguished scholar in law and economics, debunks the idea that the U.S. government stepped in to impose necessary order. Instead, regulators blocked competition at the behest of incumbent interests and, for nearly a century, have suppressed innovation while quashing out-of-the-mainstream viewpoints.
 
In his book, The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone, Prof. Hazlett details how spectrum officials produced a “vast wasteland” that they publicly criticized but privately protected. The story twists and turns, as farsighted visionaries—and the march of science—rise to challenge the old regime. Over decades, reforms to liberate the radio spectrum have generated explosive progress, ushering in the “smartphone revolution,” ubiquitous social media, and the amazing wireless world now emerging. Still, the author argues, the battle is not even half won.

Featuring:

  • Prof. Thomas W. Hazlett, H.H. Macaulay Endowed Professor of Economics, Clemson College of Business

Telecommunications Law in the New Administration - Podcast

Telecommunications & Electronic Media Practice Group Podcast
Nicholas Degani, Patricia J. Paoletta, Bryan N. Tramont April 18, 2017

In late March, Congress used the Congressional Review Act to reverse the FCC’s controversial Broadband ISP Privacy Order. The FCC had overwritten the FTC’s prior regulation of ISP privacy, after President Obama took to YouTube following the 2014 mid-term elections, to call for the regulation of ISPs as common carriers,  under a framework dating from the monopoly provision of telephone service. 

The current FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai has announced he aims to deregulate, focused on removing outdated regulations to encourage investment and innovation. Pai’s Digital Empowerment Agenda sees competitive broadband networks as engines of economic growth.  Observers expect the underlying decision from the Obama era to regulate ISPs as common carriers – aka Open Internet or Net Neutrality – to be re-considered soon. The Chairman has also proposed revising broadcast ownership rules to reflect today’s more diverse media landscape, and repurposing spectrum to facilitate the next generation of mobile broadband and Internet of Things. Maximizing access to spectrum for “5G” broadband and IoT will require repurposing some federal spectrum, so the President’s federal spectrum manager at Commerce (NTIA) will play a critical role.

In our third segment of the Legal Options for the New Administration Teleforum Series, Bryan Tramont, Chair of the Federalist Society Telecommunications Executive Committee, moderated a discussion with Chairman Ajit Pai’s Senior Counsel, Nick Degani, and Patricia Paoletta, a telecom partner at the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP. 

Featuring:

  • Nicholas Degani, Senior Counsel to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai; formerly Wireline Legal Advisor to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai
  • Patricia Paoletta, Partner at Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP, named by the Trump-Pence Transition Team to the FCC Landing Team
  • Moderator: Bryan Tramont, Managing Partner of Wilkinson, Barker & Knauer, former FCC Chief of Staff; Chair of the Federalist Society Telecommunications Executive Committee

The Role of Economic Liberty in the United States - Event Audio/Video

Administrative Law & Regulation and Telecommunications & Electronic Media Practice Groups
Michelle P. Connolly, Clark Neily, Lawrence J. Spiwak, Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Dean A. Reuter March 30, 2017

The Federalist Society hosted a lunch and discussion on the role of Economic Liberty in the United States on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.  

Today, many job-seeking Americans and companies face significant government barriers that restrict their full participation in the economy. These barriers, often in the form of restrictive regulatory regimes, prevent consumers from using their skills, entering new professions, and starting new businesses. They also prevent low and middle-class Americans from moving up the ladder.  Competition and free markets have the power to spur innovation, create new business models, and drive economic opportunity and growth.

Policymakers, like Acting Chair of the Federal Trade Commission Maureen Ohlhausen, have begun to take actions to address these barriers.  For example, Ms. Ohlhausen recently announced the creation of an Economic Liberty Task Force to advance economic liberty issues, with a particular focus on occupational licensing regulations.  These topics and others were addressed.

Speakers Include: 

  • Prof. Michelle P. Connolly, Professor of the Practice of Economics, Duke University
  • Clark Neily, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice
  • Lawrence J. Spiwak, President, Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies
  • Moderator: Hon. Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Acting Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
  • Introduction: Mr. Dean A. Reuter, Vice President & Director of Practice Groups, The Federalist Society

National Press Club
Washington, DC

Courthouse Steps: Microsoft v. Baker - Podcast

Litigation Practice Group Podcast
Cory L. Andrews March 23, 2017

On March 21, 2017, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Microsoft v. Baker. The case involves a class action lawsuit against the Microsoft Company by plaintiffs who alleged that during games on their Xbox video game console, the game disc would come loose and scratch the internal components of the device, permanently damaging the Xbox. Since only .4% of Xbox consoles experienced this issue, the district court determined that "a class action suit could not be certified and individuals in the suit would have to come forward on their own." The named plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claims with prejudice. The case was then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit where the court overturned the lower court's decision and held that the district court misapplied the law and abused its discretion in removing the class action allegations.

As Microsoft v. Baker comes before the Supreme Court, the major question is whether or not appellate courts have the jurisdiction to review a class action suit after the plaintiffs voluntarily dismiss their claims with prejudice.

Featuring:

  • Cory L. Andrews, Senior Litigation Counsel, Washington Legal Foundation