President Obama announces the nomination of Rep. Melvin Watt, left, as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and Tom Wheeler, right, as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on May 1, 2013. (credit: White House)

The US Department of Justice has decided not to support the Federal Communications Commission in its legal fight against state laws that restrict municipal broadband projects.
The FCC voted in February—with public support from President Obama—to preempt state laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories. The states sued to preserve their laws, which protect private broadband providers from government competition.
But while Obama supported the FCC’s decision, the Justice Department won’t help defend it in court. In a very short filing, a DOJ attorney told a federal appeals court last week that “Respondent United States of America takes no position in these cases.” (The North Carolina and Tennessee lawsuits were filed against the FCC and the United States of America—the FCC is continuing to defend its decision.)
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