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A Victory for the Free Market: Federal Court Rebukes the FCC

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Victories for free markets and limited government are too rare these days, but taxpayers scored a major win yesterday with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s decision in State of Tennessee, et. al. v. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). At issue in the case was whether the FCC could preempt state laws restricting government-owned broadband networks (GONs).

In 2015, on a straight party line vote, the FCC blocked laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that prohibit GONs from expanding into nearby jurisdictions. Thankfully the 6th Circuit overturned the decision because the unprecedented power grab by the FCC violated the sovereignty of the states’ authority to regulate municipal governments.

National Taxpayers Union (NTU) has been a long time critic of these ill-considered, crony capitalist GONs schemes. As Ajit Pai, a dissenting Commissioner from the FCC’s 2015 decision stated in response to the 6th Circuit’s decision, “Rather than wasting its time on illegal efforts to intrude on the prerogatives of state governments, the FCC should focus on implementing a broadband deployment agenda to eliminate regulatory barriers that discourage those in the private sector from deploying and upgrading next-generation networks.” NTU wholeheartedly agrees. We will continue to expose these big government interventions into the private sector and explain why they are a bad deal for taxpayers.