SHLB Pleased with Universal Service Court Victory March 24, 2023
For Immediate Release
Marketing and PR Director
Appeals Court Ruling Upholds Internet Connectivity for Schools, Libraries and Rural Healthcare Providers
Washington, D.C. (March 24, 2023) - Today, The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition welcomed the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision in the Consumers’ Research case, which decided in favor of the FCC and supported the continuation of the Universal Service Fund (USF). SHLB filed an intervenor’s brief with the court in support of the FCC and the USF. The Court rejected the Petitioner’s argument that Congress violated the non-delegation doctrine, and agreed with SHLB that the statute provides proper guidance to the FCC as it administers the USF.
The USF is a $9 billion annual program that provides critically important funding for uninterrupted internet connectivity to schools, libraries, and rural healthcare providers, which is fundamental to SHLB’s mission.
“SHLB is extremely pleased that the court recognized the importance of the universal service program for the thousands of schools, libraries and health care providers that receive Universal Service Fund (USF) support. In the 1996 Telecom Act, Congress provided the FCC with both specific guidance and flexibility to adjust the USF program over time to embrace changes in the marketplace,” said John Windhausen, Jr., Executive Director of the SHLB Coalition. “These programs are essential to bridging the digital divide, ensuring economic growth, promoting digital opportunity, and strengthening democracy.”
However, the same petitioners have also filed appeals in the 6th and 11th Circuit on this matter. With two more decisions to go, support for thousands of anchor institutions nationwide is still in jeopardy. If the USF is ruled unconstitutional, it would put at risk the funding for four key programs: the Connect America Fund, Lifeline, Schools and Libraries (E-Rate), and Rural Health Care.
The SHLB Coalition is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) advocacy organization that supports open, affordable, high-quality broadband connections for anchor institutions and their surrounding communities. The SHLB Coalition is based in Washington, D.C. and has a diverse membership of commercial and non-commercial organizations from across the United States. To learn more, visit www.shlb.org.