US Supreme Court to hear municipal telecoms case

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case in the fall that could determine whether states can pass laws that prohibit municipalities from providing telecommunications and Internet services in competition with the private sector.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case in the fall that could determine whether states can pass laws that prohibit municipalities from providing telecommunications and Internet services in competition with the private sector.

The FCC and the federal government, represented by Solicitor General Theodore Olson, filed a petition for the writ of certiorari, asking the court to hear the case because of a conflict between decisions handed down by two federal appellate courts. The FCC and the US government take the position that states have the right to pass such laws, but that the conflict among the appellate courts made it impossible for the FCC to determine whether they can pre-empt the state laws.

However, several municipalities and public utilities opposed the hearing on grounds that Supreme Court review is not necessary. They take the position that Congress gave the FCC the authority to ban any state laws restricting competition in telecommunications.