That’s the headline from today’s ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which largely upheld the Trump FCC’s Net Neutrality repeal.
We won’t sugarcoat it: This is a big setback and a huge gift to companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. But this fight isn’t over. Not by a long shot.
And there are silver linings in today’s decision that give us even more reasons to fight back.
The court’s 186-page decision boils down to this: The judges deferred to the so-called expert agency.
This is in line with the established Supreme Court precedent, even when you have an agency as misguided, biased and plain wrong on the facts as this one.
One of the judges who joined the opinion acknowledged her hands were tied, even as she admitted being “deeply concerned that the result is unhinged from the realities of modern broadband service.”
This deference to the FCC is the same legal reasoning that first put Net Neutrality in jeopardy in 2005. And it’s the same legal reasoning that helped us win it back 10 years later.
So that’s the first silver lining: It’s up to the FCC to decide. A new FCC in 2021 could reverse course again and put the Obama-era Net Neutrality rules back in place.
Here’s the second: The court completely rejected the FCC’s claims that it can preempt state legislation on Net Neutrality.
Four states have already passed pro-Net Neutrality laws, and five more have issued executive orders saying they won’t do business with any ISPs that violate Net Neutrality. (One state, Vermont, did both.) Another 27 states have introduced or considered legislation.
So we’ll be taking this fight to the states.
Here’s a third silver lining: The court rejected a handful of especially terrible FCC claims connected to public safety and the Lifeline program, sending the agency back to the drawing board.
And a fourth, which might be the most important: This Congress — or the next Congress — can fix all of this by passing legislation like the Save the Internet Act, which the House passed earlier this year.
Unequivocal support of real Net Neutrality needs to be a requirement of any candidate seeking office, from the White House to the statehouse, Capitol Hill to city hall.
Net Neutrality is the bedrock of every single social-justice movement happening today. The fights for immigrant rights, racial justice, reproductive freedom, environmental protections and so much more are all being organized online.
Under no circumstances can we let executives at some of the most hated companies on the face of the planet control what we do and say online. The world can’t afford it. We’ll fight like hell to win back Net Neutrality protections for internet users everywhere.
In the days ahead, we’ll dive in with our attorneys and allies to craft our strategies and weigh our options for appealing today’s decision. In the meantime, please rush your emergency donation so we can keep fighting. A generous donor will triple all donations up to $100,000.
Nobody likes to lose. But we’re more determined than ever to keep fighting — and win.