Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, says Federal Communications Commission should be renamed the "Fabricating a Crisis Commission," following a vote by the panel's three Democrats to approve proposed rules that amount to a hostile takeover of the Internet by a government agency acting illegally.
The proposal - misleadingly described by proponents as an attempt to insure "net neutrality" by guaranteeing equal access to the Internet - was introduced a year ago by Julius Genachowski, President Obama's appointee as FCC chairman.
A federal court has ruled that the commission has no authority to regulate the Internet, and a bipartisan group of senators and representives warned Genechowski not to attempt to impose a regulatory regime on the Internet earlier this year.
The move's legality was even questioned by FCC Commissioner Michael Copp, one of the Democrats who voted today with Genachowski, saying he considered voting against the proposal because it lacks a sufficiently defensible legal basis to survive a court challenge promised by major Internet Service Providers like Verizon, Microsoft, and AT & T.
But legal challenges by industry are likely to be much less of a problem for the Genachowski-led takeover than efforts in Congress to stop the FCC in its tracks.
That's clearly what DeMint has in mind, as he said in his statement released today following the FCC action:
“The Obama Administration has ignored evidence that this federal takeover will hang a millstone of regulatory and legal uncertainty around the neck of a vibrant sector of our economy.
"Proceeding on its own liberal whims rather than facts, this FCC has chosen to grant itself broad authority to limit how businesses can bring the internet to consumers in faster and more innovative ways.
“Americans loudly demanded a more limited federal government this November, but the Obama Administration has dedicated itself to expanding centralized government planning. Today, unelected bureaucrats rammed through an internet takeover, even after Congress and courts warned them not to.
“To keep the internet economy thriving, this decision must be reversed. Regulatory reform will be a top priority for Republicans in the next Congress, and I intend to prevent the FCC or any government agency from unilaterally burdening our recovering economy with baseless regulation.
"In order to provide the stability businesses need to grow, I will work with my fellow senators to see passage of my FCC Act, which would ensure that the FCC can only use its rulemaking powers where there is clear evidence of a harmful market failure, as well as the REINS Act, which would add the accountability of a Congressional vote before any government agency’s proposed major regulations may be finalized.”
If the FCC plan somehow manages to survive, it will almost certainly do for First Amendment liberties and the Internet what it did for them in regulating broadcast television and radio. Former CBS News president Fred Friendly's landmark book, "The Good Guys, the Bad Guys and the First Amendment," describes in great detail how the Kennedy and Johnson administrations used the FCC to silence conservative critics.