Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

The Trump Administration Is Fighting California's Tough Net Neutrality Law California, home to Silicon Valley, has enacted the nation's toughest net neutrality protections and will have to defend them in court.

By Peter Page

Getty Images

You think government doesn't work on weekends? Think again.

On Sunday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's toughest net neutrality law, which includes protections tougher than the Obama-era federal rules that were repealed by the Trump Administration's FCC.

Also on Sunday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit on behalf of the FCC claiming the law is both unconsitutional and barred by the FCC's rule forbidding state and local governments from imposing net neutrality protections. However it turns out, the litigation is an opportunity for the tech world to learn about the Constitution's commerce clause and the Tenth Amendment. But first, some background.

In 2015, during the Obama Administration, the FCC approved a sweeping net neutrality rule that imposed regulation on internet service providers (ISP) as public utilities. The rule required ISPs to treat all content equally, meaning a startup angling to be the next Netflix or Amazon would have the same bandwidth as the behemoths they are challenging.

Last December, the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai, a former lawyer for Verizon, voted to repeal the rule. The bill signed by Brown enshrined that principle into California law.

Related: With Net Neutrality Repealed ISPs Now Have the Censoring Power of an Authoritarian Government

A number of states, California among them, are challenging the FCC repeal of the net neutrality rule in federal court. Meanwhile, it is widely anticipated the ISPs, which pushed for a clause in the FCC repeal specifically banning states from enacting their own net neutrality legislation, will file their own lawsuits challenging the new California law.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a statement released Sunday, argued California's new law is unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, which reserves to Congress all power to regulate interstate commerce. "Under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce -- the federal government does," Sessions said. "Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy."

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is overseeing many lawsuits against the Trump Administration, said California will not back down.

"While the Trump Administration continues to ignore the millions of Americans who voiced strong support for net neutrality rules, California -- home to countless startups, tech giants and nearly 40 million consumers -- will not allow a handful of power brokers to dictate sources for information or the speed at which websites load," he said.

Related: 3 Ways the Net Neutrality Repeal Can Damage Your Business

The litigation can be seen as part of the eternal wrangling between the states and federal government over the extent to which the Tenth Amendment ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.") allows states to regulate their own commerce. California, for instance, set auto emission standards for cars sold in the state prior to Congress passing the Clean Air Act in 1970. As a result, California retains the authority to set tougher tailpipe standards than federal standards and each state can choose to require cars sold within their borders meet the tougher California emission rules.

The Trump Administration, as part of its rollback of Obama Administration auto emission rules, is seeking to strip California of its authority to set those tougher standards.

Peter Page

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Editor for Green Entrepreneur

Peter Page's journalism career began in the 1980s in the Emerald Triangle writing about the federally-funded Campaign Against Marijuana Planting. He now writes and edits for Green Entrepreneur.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Social Media

How To Start a Youtube Channel: Step-by-Step Guide

YouTube can be a valuable way to grow your audience. If you're ready to create content, read more about starting a business YouTube Channel.

Growing a Business

Want to Expand Your Market Overseas? Here's Everything You Need to Know About Global Logistics in 2024

With rising geopolitical tensions and changing market conditions it can be hard for businesses to navigate supply chain logistics even in a post-pandemic world. Here are three tips from the CEO of an international customs brokerage.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Elvis Presley's Granddaughter Fights Graceland Foreclosure, Calls Paperwork 'Forgeries'

The 13.8-acre estate was scheduled to be sold in a public foreclosure auction on Thursday. Presley's granddaughter and heir, Riley Keough, is fighting to save Graceland in court.

Business News

Kickstarter Is Opening Up Its Platform to Creators and Making Big Changes to Its Model — Here's What's New

The company noted it is moving beyond traditional crowdfunding and making it easier for businesses to raise more money.

Business News

Target Is Lowering Prices on Thousands of Items — Here's Where You Can Expect to Save

The news was announced ahead of Target's Q1 2024 earnings call, expected to occur Wednesday at 10 a.m. EST.