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Brett Shumate’s First Amendment Arguments on Behalf of Net Neutrality Petitioners Draw Media Coverage

Law360, The National Review, Courthouse News Service, Consumerist
December 7, 2015

Brett A. Shumate, a partner in Wiley Rein’s Appellate, Litigation, and Telecom, Media & Technology practices, drew extensive media coverage regarding First Amendment arguments he made before a federal appeals court on behalf of two clients challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality rules.

News organizations including Law360, the National Review, Courthouse News Service, and Consumerist covered Mr. Shumate’s December 4 oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in U.S. Telecom Association v. Federal Communications Commission, et al.

Arguing on behalf of a Texas broadband provider and a developer of Internet communications services, Mr. Shumate said the net neutrality rules violate the First Amendment rights of broadband providers. Wiley Rein’s clients are among a group of petitioners urging the D.C. Circuit to vacate the rules, which took effect in June 2015.

Law360 noted that Mr. Shumate is no stranger to the D.C. Circuit, having served on the Wiley Rein team that in 2014 persuaded the same court to strike down the FCC’s previous set of net neutrality rules. As explained in Law360’s coverage, Mr. Shumate argued that the net neutrality rules adopted this year force broadband providers to transmit messages they may not agree with, and that providers seeking to use paid prioritization should be regulated more like traditional media.

Mr. Shumate told the court that providers should be able to choose which content they distribute, and how quickly they do so. “The First Amendment has always limited the government’s ability to regulate the dissemination of content,” Mr. Shumate said, according to a December 4 article in Courthouse News Service.