Democrats Jubilant Over Net-Neutrality Ruling

Pols celebrate big court victory upholding Title II reclassification

The sweeping court ruling upholding the FCC's Title II-based network-neutrality rules generated immediate comment from Hill Democrats celebrating what they, and others, saw as a big victory.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected all the ISP challenges to the rules and upheld the reclassification of ISPs as common carriers and the application of the rules to interconnection and mobile wireless operators. It was essentially a sweep for the commission and the Obama Administration, which strongly backed the rules.

“I am pleased that the court upheld the important open Internet protections that the FCC put into place last year,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee. “This is a significant milestone for consumer protections on the Internet.”

“Today’s court decision makes clear that net neutrality is here to stay,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who had pushed hard for Title II. “The court decision affirms what we already know to be true: that the FCC has the power to classify broadband Internet access service according to its best and current understanding of the technology, and how consumers harness that technology. The battle for net neutrality is the battle for our online future, and today’s ruling is a victory for consumers, innovators, entrepreneurs and anyone who counts on the Internet to connect to the world."

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, said: “Today’s court decision is a major victory for internet consumers and small businesses.  I have always been a strong supporter of net neutrality. And now, after years of debate and unprecedented public engagement, the Court has affirmed the FCC’s strong consumer protection rules.  This is a momentous step to legal certainty that the internet remains an open platform for everyone.”

More reaction:Net-Neutrality Advocates Take Victory Lap

It has been at least a decade since the FCC first adopted network openness and access principles, which initially proved unenforceable. Comcast challenged those principles, which led to the FCC's first attempt at rules without Title II reclassification. Verizon challenged those, which has now resulted in Title II-based rules upheld by  a federal court.

“Today’s decision in the D.C. Circuit ensures that the Internet will remain the most powerful engine the world has ever known for free speech, education and economic growth," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), another Title II fan. "The FCC’s rules protect the Internet as an open platform – prohibiting would-be gatekeepers from attempting to control the flow of content for their own economic gain."

He certainly did not sound like he wanted Congress to mix it up over the issue. "My hope is that we now have certainty for users across the country who rely on the Internet every day to shop, operate their business or to invent the next technological breakthrough.”

Ditto Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who said: “Today’s decision upholding net neutrality is an enormous victory for consumers, for businesses and startups, and ultimately for the innovation that has helped drive our modern economy. Net neutrality has been part of the architecture of the Internet since the very beginning — and as we’ve seen for the past several decades, a free and open Internet has been a tremendous engine for innovation and economic growth. That growth hasn’t just happened while we’ve had net neutrality in place — it’s happened because of net neutrality."

Rep. Anna Esho (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Comunications Subcommittee (she represents Silicon Valley), joined the Democrats "hallelujah!" chorus. “This is a great day for all Internet users," she said. "Today’s ruling of the Court affirms what millions of Americans already knew – that net neutrality rules grounded in Title II gave the FCC the strongest legal authority to adopt strong and meaningful rules against blocking, throttling, and discrimination of online content by both wired and wireless broadband providers."

“The Court’s decision ensures that the Internet will remain an open platform for free expression, innovation, and economic competition,"  said Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), a member of the House Communications Subcommitte, which shares jurisdiction over communications issues. "This decision, which provides much-needed certainty to Internet businesses and consumers, will benefit all Americans significantly in the years to come. In upholding the FCC’s Open Internet Order, the Court has also validated the policies adopted by the FCC -- and rejected the arguments of its industry critics."

“I am pleased with the D.C. Circuit’s decision to uphold the FCC’s Open Internet rules," said Communications Subcommittee Democrat Jerry McNerney (Calif.). "These rules prohibit broadband providers from unfairly limiting consumer access to online content and ensure that the Internet remains a place for innovation and economic growth. This decision supports the principles of fairness and openness for consumers across the country.”