New Judge in Net Neutrality Oral Argument

In a new twist on the year's long legal journey of net neutrality rules, there is a new judge hearing oral argument in the Feb. 1 challenge by Mozilla et al. to the FCC's recent rollback of rules.

Judge Judith Rogers is out and judge Robert Wilkins is in, according to the oral argument calendar on the court's site. There was no explanation for the switch.

The original panel had been Judges Rogers, Patricia Millett and Stephen Williams, with Rogers presiding. With Rogers out, Millett will be presiding. One attorney familiar with both said that the biggest difference will likely be that while Rogers is pretty much a by the book stickler for holding the parties to their time limits, Millett is looser with those limits.

As to the differences between Rogers and Wilkins, he says not much ideologically. "However, Wilkins has much less of a track record on tech issues," he says. "Like all the D.C. Circuit judges, he is very smart. He is more active in oral argument than Judge Rogers, so the dynamic may be slightly different in that regard."

At issue is the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom order repealing rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization and reclassifying internet access as a Title I information service not subject to any common carrier regs.

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.