Court Dismisses Verizon’s Net Neutrality Appeal

Decision is less an endorsement of the commission’s ability to govern the internet than it is a victory by technicality

In a victory for the Federal Communications Commission's ability to regulate the internet, a D.C. court dismissed Verizon’s appeal of the commission's net neutrality rules on Monday.  

The regulations are intended to prevent internet providers from charging higher fees for premium service. Verizon argued in its filing that the FCC lacked the authority to enforce the rules.

But in siding with the FCC, the court was only objected to the timing of the appeal, not its relative merits. 

Indeed, the court's ruling is less an endorsement of the FCC's regulations than it is a victory by technicality. In its decision, the court said that the companies needed to wait until the new regulations were published in the Federal Register before any appeal could be heard. 

Since passing the commission last December, the FCC's net neutrality rules have drawn the ire of major corporations and congressional Republicans, who argue that congress alone should take up the issue of online tolls. 

MetroPCS also filed a challenge to the FCC's rulemaking abilities, which the court dismissed. 

Public interest groups hailed the court's decision on Monday. 

"We are pleased that the Court dismissed Verizon’s untimely and distracting challenge to the FCC’s Net Neutrality order. Now we are confident the judicial system will deal with any and all appeals raised in an orderly and fair manner," Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge, said in a statement. 

In rejecting the appeal, the judges blocked Verizon's attempt to get the case heard by the same three-judge panel that earlier questioned whether the FCC's mandate extended to the Internet.

In that decision last summer, the court ruled that the FCC could not sanction Comcast for limiting its customers’ ability to download big BitTorrent video files. The judges on Monday said the FCC's new net neutrality rule is a separate court case.