Court Takes on FCC “Overreach”


Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) applauded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for ruling against the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) assertion that it could overturn state laws relating to municipal broadband  deployment.

The case stems from a February 26, 2015 party line vote by the FCC to preempt laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that placed restrictions on local municipalities’ ability to build government-owned broadband networks. Both states filed suits in March 2015 to have the FCC’s decision overturned. The decision was based on Chairman Tom Wheeler’s claim that Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which directed the FCC to “encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans,” enabled the agency to preempt state laws. However, the court found that Section 706 “falls far short of such a clear  statement.”

CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “Today’s decision by the Sixth Circuit proves that the FCC had no business dictating what a state could do regarding municipal broadband. The assertion that the agency could overturn state laws based on Section 706 was a stretch, and another example of the FCC’s – and the entire Obama administration’s – massive overreach. This case has been resolved in the best interests of taxpayers and consumers, as it upholds the constitutional rights of states to govern their incorporated municipalities as they see  fit.”

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in  government.

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