FCC Quacks Duck Court Showdown; Commission's Internet Rules Were Dismissed Once Already

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Byline: Seton Motley, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

June 21 marks the six-month anniversary of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) illegally imposing itself on the World Wide Web in order to assert patently absurd net neutrality rules.

A half-year later, the FCC still has not filed the order with the Federal Register, which is where all new rules and regulations must go to begin their imposition.

What's the holdup? There are several possibilities, some or all of which may be why the FCC is so thoroughly slow-playing it. (Please note that it took the FCC less than a month - April 7 to May 6 - to file its wireless data-roaming seizure - so it can get things done when it wants to.)

One possibility for the delay: Two wireless providers - Verizon and Metro PCS - had filed suit to undo FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's net neutrality order. Verizon had sought relief in the same U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that unanimously ruled in April 2010 that the FCC has no net neutrality authority.

The court dismissed the suit, saying the company couldn't contest the rules until the agency published them. But the court's docket is moving along and the clock ticking. The longer the chairman drags his feet on the net neutrality order, the less likely it becomes that the court will be able to hear the case. By stalling, the chairman is callously venue-shopping - and ducking a court in which he knows he most likely will lose.

This demonstrates just how proud the FCC must be of the shabby lawyering - and linguistic and intellectual contortions - it has executed to try to re-concoct justification for its second unjustifiable and illegal Internet power grab.

If the FCC thought it had found a newer and better way to assert its alleged authority than the one summarily dismissed last year - authority that Mr. Genachowski admits he doesn't have - the commission wouldn't be attempting to duck the court that last time told it to take a flying leap.

The FCC's newest official excuse for the delay is that it is going through the process of complying with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). That pretext was proffered on Wednesday at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association's Cable Show by FCC General Counsel Austin Schlick.

There's at least one huge problem with this assertion: The FCC - and every federal department, agency and commission - is supposed to comply with the PRA before it votes to impose a new order, not after. …