Wiley Rein's Communications Appellate Practice has litigated the most significant questions facing the communications industry, attaining success in courts nationwide and figuring prominently in numerous groundbreaking cases. Legal 500 US has described the group as "the one to beat." It is the preeminent "go-to" team for many of the industry's largest companies, handling the full range of issues across the communications industry. With a "mine of trial expertise" and "market-leading FCC expertise," the group is frequently involved in matters well before an appeal, providing clients with first-rate advice and advocacy at every step.
Wiley Rein's communications appellate team is second to none, comprised, as Legal 500 US notes, of "erstwhile 'giants of the market,' and up-and-coming talent." Most of the attorneys in the practice clerked at the federal appellate level, and several clerked at the U.S. Supreme Court. The group is headed by Helgi C. Walker, a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Chambers USA ranks Ms. Walker among "America's Leading Lawyers for Business" in Appellate Law and Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite. Clients hailed her in Chambers as “dynamite in the courtroom and a forceful oral advocate.” In 2010, Ms. Walker was named American Lawyers ' "Litigator of the Week" for her role in securing a "blockbuster appellate decision" in favor of her client in a historic challenge to the FCC's first major attempt to regulate the Internet.
Cases illustrative of the team's strengths are briefly described below.
A selection of recent Supreme Court and appellate cases handled by Wiley Rein's communications appellate attorneys includes:
U.S. Supreme Court
- AT&T v. Concepcion, filed a key amicus brief on behalf of a group of distinguished law professors in a case concerning Federal Arbitration Act preemption and the enforceability of class arbitration waivers.
- Litman v. Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless, obtained a writ of certiorari and vacatur of Third Circuit opinion in light of AT&T v. Concepcion.
- Brand X Internet Services v. FCC, represented telecommunications clients in a challenge to the FCC's regulation of broadband services under the Communications Act, the First Amendment and administrative law principles.
- City of Jefferson City, Mo. v. Cingular Wireless, LLC, argued on behalf of appellant, and petitioned for certiorari in the Supreme Court, on behalf of large cell phone and Internet provider in a case involving municipal tax collection.
- Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League, filed amicus brief on behalf of the United States Telecom Association, Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth in case regarding municipal provision of telecommunications services.
Federal Appellate Courts
- Verizon v. FCC, representing Verizon in the lead challenge to the FCC’s order formally adopting net neutrality rules in response to Comcast v. FCC, a favorable decision obtained earlier by Wiley Rein on behalf of Comcast.
- CTIA—The Wireless Association v. The City and County of San Francisco, California, representing the wireless industry in a First Amendment challenge to the City of San Francisco’s ordinance requiring retailers to distribute “fact sheets” about radio frequency (RF) energy emitted by cell phones.
- New Cingular Wireless PCS v. Finley, representing appellants in appeal of decision by the North Carolina Utilities Commission regarding the interconnection and reciprocal compensation obligations of rural carriers and wireless service providers.
- Verizon v. FCC, representing Verizon in challenge to the FCC’s data roaming order, arguing, among other things, that the FCC exceeded its statutory authority when approving these regulations.
- Comcast v. FCC, successfully represented Comcast in challenging the FCC order that Comcast's broadband network management practices (relating to peer-to-peer file sharing traffic) violated the principles of the FCC's Internet Policy Statement.
- Murray v. Motorola, represented clients as part of a wireless industry defense group in litigation regarding the alleged health effects of RF emissions, in which the appellate court affirmed a lower court opinion finding certain state-law tort and consumer protection claims preempted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and FCC regulations.
- Hepting v. AT&T Inc., represented the U.S. Telecom Association in litigation challenging the National Security Agency's Terrorist Surveillance Program and the alleged cooperation of telecommunications carriers in that program.
- Comcast v. FCC, represented Comcast in reversing and vacating the FCC's ownership cap for cable operators, which limited them to serving only 30% of the nation's multi-channel video subscribers.
- Cablevision Systems Corp. v. FCC, successfully argued on behalf of WRNN License Company against petition for review of an FCC order regarding whether the cable system must carry WRNN.
- MediaOne Group, Inc. v. County of Henrico, represented telephone companies in critical case regarding the proper regulatory treatment of high-speed Internet access over cable systems.
- Puerto Rico Telephone Co., Inc. v. Municipality of Guayanilla, successfully represented Puerto Rico Telephone Company in case claiming that federal law preempted an ordinance imposing a 5% gross revenue fee on telecommunications providers.
State Supreme Courts
- Balthazar, et al. v. Verizon Hawaii Inc., represented Verizon Hawaii, Inc. in a putative class action suit alleging that Verizon Hawaii violated the Hawaii consumer protection laws in marketing its Touch Calling service. The Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii affirmed a decision granting summary judgment.
Additional information on our appellate work is available here.
New COPPA Rule Expands Children's Online Privacy Protections
By Bennett L. Ross and Amy E. Worlton
December 20, 2012
No Notice, No Deference: Agency Deference After Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp.
By Brendan J. Morrissey and Elbert Lin
August 14, 2012 | Bloomberg BNA's The United States Law Week
GAO Recommends that the FCC Reassess Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones
By R. Michael Senkowski, Andrew G. McBride, David E. Hilliard, Joshua S. Turner and Megan L. Brown
August 13, 2012