ISPs Want Net Neutrality Case to Stay in Cincinnati Courtroom

'Washington, D.C. has no monopoly on the Internet or administrative law,' the ISPs said.

ISPs Want Net Neutrality Case to Stay in Cincinnati Courtroom
Photo of John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati by Jake Blucker used with permission

WASHINGTON, June 18, 2024 – Internet Service Provider trade associations don’t want their net neutrality lawsuit to leave a Cincinnati courtroom.

“Washington, D.C. has no monopoly on the Internet or administrative law,” the ISPs said.

After the Federal Communications Commission adopted the net neutrality rules in April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati was chosen by lottery to hear the case.

The FCC, supported by the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, filed a motion to transfer the case to the D.C. Circuit, pointing to that court’s deep experience with net neutrality litigation. But the ISPs – in a filing Monday night with the Sixth Circuit – said they don’t want that to happen.

“It is obvious why the FCC and Benton want to sidestep the lottery process and transfer these cases to the D.C. Circuit: The last time the FCC classified broadband under Title II, it defended its order in the D.C. Circuit and won there,” the ISPs said.

The FCC and Benton have until Friday to respond to the ISPs.

The FCC’s rules imposed common carrier obligations on broadband ISPs, barring them from blocking or throttling lawful content or accepting payment to prioritize content delivered to mass market end users.

But by placing ISPs within Title II of the Communications Act, the FCC stripped ISPs of their classification as lightly regulated entities within Title I of the same law.

The ISP groups – which include the Ohio Telecom Association, USTelecom and NCTA – filed their own motion to stay the FCC’s rules pending judicial review. Because the rules take effect on July 22, the ISPs said the transfer motion was not a priority. The ISPs have asked the Sixth Circuit to rule on the stay motion by July 15.

“In short, the stay motion is time-sensitive; the transfer request is not,” the ISP groups said.

Under a previous Sixth Circuit order, the deadline to respond to the ISPs’ stay request is today.

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