Now that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed what Broadcasting & Cable’s John Eggerton artfully calls a “Title II Lite” approach to broadband regulation, it’s a good time to take a second look (or maybe your first) at a recent paper by Robert Corn-Revere.
Bob wrote a Perspectives policy paper for The Media Institute titled “Defining Away the First Amendment,” which we released May 4.
This noted First Amendment attorney makes a crucial point – but a point that has not received adequate attention: “The FCC’s current ability to change the level of First Amendment protection for a medium simply by changing its regulatory definition is quite limited, if not nonexistent.”
Whoa, you mean there’s a First Amendment dimension to this reclassification debate? You’d never know it by listening to the FCC, or to “net neutrality” supporters like Free Press. Maybe that’s not surprising, since the First Amendment could very well prove an unwelcome stumbling block for Chairman Genachowski and his net-neutrality ilk. Easier for them just to ignore it.
But, I would suggest to you, the First Amendment is far too important to ignore here. In his issue paper, Bob Corn-Revere has shed some much-needed light on a pivotal concern that the FCC has tried to keep in the shadows. Taking a “lite” approach to Title II reclassification doesn’t absolve the FCC of its constitutional obligations. If anything, we need more “light” from Bob and others who are willing to hold the FCC accountable for the First Amendment ramifications of its regulatory agenda.