Stepping in: The FCC's Authority to Preempt State Laws Under the Communications Act [Updated September 20, 2021]   [open pdf - 1MB]

From the Summary: "The line between federal and state authority plays a central role in modern communications law. Rather than fully displacing state law, the Communications Act of 1934 (Communications Act or Act)sets up a dual system of federal and state regulation. At the federal level, the Communications Act gives the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) broad authority to regulate wired and wireless telephony, radio transmissions, cable services, and matters that are ancillary to these areas. At the same time, however, the Act expressly preserves some state regulatory authority over these technologies. Consequently, the boundary between the FCC's authority and the states' has been a source of dispute. [...] This Report discusses these issues in more detail. It begins with an overview of the legal framework governing the FCC's preemption actions, first discussing general federal preemption principles and then explaining the FCC's preemption authority under the Communications Act. The Report then reviews recent FCC initiatives in which FCC preemption plays a key role. Specifically, it explains how the FCC has exercised its preemption authority--and the extent to which such authority has been challenged or is uncertain--in the areas of net neutrality, VoIP, 5G infrastructure deployment, community broadband, and state and local regulation of cable operators."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R46736
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/
Media Type:
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