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House Democrats Dems Press Merrick Garland to Drop Net Neutrality Suit

Capitol Building

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and a baker's dozen Democratic members of the California congressional delegation have called on attorney general nominee Merrick Garland to make net neutrality one of his first orders of business in the new post.

Merrick Garland has been tapped as Attorney General under the Biden Administration

Garland has been a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which has principle oversight of FCC decisions like the elimination of net neutrality rules.

Specifically, the legislators want Garland to withdraw the government's lawsuit against California net neutrality law ASAP when he takes over after Inauguration Day.

Also Read: Court Should Deny Blocking of Net Neutrality Law

The law was passed after the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) order scrapped its net neutrality rules banning blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. The FCC's RIF deregulation of internet access included a preemption of state regs that conflicted with that decision. But in 2018, California passed its own tough net neutrality rules anyway to fill what it saw as a regulatory void.

The FCC, backed by Justice, filed suit, as did ISPs.

The law's implementation was stayed pending resolution of those legal challenges.

"In September 2018, then-Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the SB 822, the strongest net neutrality law in the country. The Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) sued to overturn California’s law hours later, and associations of telecommunications providers sued within days," the legislators wrote. "Parties to the case agreed to put the case on hold until Mozilla v. FCC was resolved. In that case, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the part of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s 2018 Restoring Internet Order (RIF) that preempted state net neutrality laws.

Also Read: California Committee Approves Tough New Net Neutrality Bill

“With the new Administration, we have an opportunity to restore the damage the Trump FCC has done to the free and open internet in the last four years,” said Eshoo. “As the pandemic surges, it is more important than ever that we restore the policies to ensure families have full access to an open and reliable internet.”

In addition to Eshoo, signing on to the letter were Democratic California House members Doris Matsui, Jerry McNerney, Mike Thompson, Jackie Speier, Barbara Lee, Mark Takano, Jimmy Panetta, Ted Lieu, Ro Khanna, Jared Huffman, Eric Swalwell, and Mike Levin.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.