The National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday, asking the court not to review a decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that favored states’ rights over the FCC in an ongoing battle over regulating line-items on customer’s wireless bills.
In 2005, the FCC ruled that its regulations pre-empt state regulations that might require or prohibit wireless carriers from using line items on customers bills, in that it would amount to states’ regulating rates. The FCC included in its decision that the ruling in no way limited states’ ability to enforce their own consumer protection laws.
However, NASUCA filed a petition for judicial review with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and in late 2006 won. The Court ruled that the FCC cannot pre-empt the states’ right to define billing practices for wireless carriers and other utilities, and that in trying to control line-item billing practices states are not trying to regulate wireless pricing, but how carriers present charges to customers. The court specified that the FCC’s domain over distributing and defining spectrum was not in question.
The FCC asked the 11th Circuit Court to re-hear the case, as previous decisions from the 11th and 8th Circuit Courts gave the FCC the right to pre-empt states’ consumer protection laws that affected wireless carriers’ billing practices. The Supreme Court was also debating whether or not to hear an appeal of the case.
In December of last year, the U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement told the Supreme Court that even though he disagreed with the 11th Court’s decision, its ruling did “not warrant further review at this time.”
Marsha Smith, president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), which filed the case along with NASUCA, responded in a statement saying, “The solicitor general’s filing … confirms what we have been saying all along – this is not a decision the Supreme Court needs to review.”
Although it still has not been decided whether the Supreme Court will hear the case. NASUCA’s filing was in response to the Solicitor General’s filing made in December.
Filed Under: Infrastructure