SBC v. FCC
- Trial Court: SBC Communications, Inc., et. al. v. Federal Communications
Commission, et. al. U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, Case Number
- Appeals Court: SBC Communications, Inc., et. al. v. FCC, et. al., U.S. Court of
Appeals, 5th Circuit, Number 98-10140. (Complete case
caption for appellate action.)
- Supreme Court: SBC Communications v. FCC, U. S. Supreme Court Docket No.
Nature of the Case. First, there was the federal District Court
suit by Bell Operating Companies to have Sections 271-275 of
the Telecommunications Act of 1996 held unconstitutional as a bill of attainder; the judge
ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs. Second, there was the appeal to the Fifth Circuit,
in which the appeals court reversed the trial court. Third, there was the appeal to
the U.S. Supreme Court.
Communications, Inc., and other Bell Operating Companies (BOCs).
Communications Commission, the federal regulatory agency with responsibility for
implementing the Telecommunications Act of 1996, AT&T, MCI, Sprint, and others.
Facts. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (at § 271-275) bars named regional Bell Operating Companies
(BOCs) from providing in region long distance service until the FCC determines that
they have opened their local markets to competition. The FCC has rejected all BOC
applications to enter long distance services. BOCs sued.
Issues. The basic legal issue is whether it was unconstitutional
for Congress in enacting the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to ban BOCs from engaging in
long distance, and other services. Can the regional Bells compete with long distance
providers such as AT&T, MCI, and GTE. More
specifically, the legal issues are:
- Whether § 271-275 are unconstitutional for being a bill of attainder.
- Whether the Bill of Attainder clause of the Constitution protects corporations, or only
- Whether these sections violated the separation of powers doctrine.
- Whether these sections violate the Equal Protection rights of BOCs.
- Whether these sections violate the First Amendment rights of BOCs.
- The District Court ruled for the Plaintiffs (BOCs) by holding §
271-275 unconstitutional bills of attainder. The Court did not rule on the 1st
and 14th Amendment claims. However, the Court stayed its ruling, pending resolution
of the appeals case.
- The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed.
- The Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
Chronology with Links to Pleading and Related Materials
- 4/11/97. SBC applies to FCC pursuant to § 271 for authority to provide in region
long distance in Oklahoma.
- 6/26/97. FCC denies application.
- 7/2/97. Plaintiffs file suit in Federal District Court.
- 12/31/97. "Memorandum
Opinion and Order". (19 page PDF file located in the website of the U.S.
District Court, N.D.TX.)
- 2/11/98. "Order
Granting Stay and Denying Injunction". (2 page PDF file located in the
Court's website.) See also, Story: Judge Kendall Stays
- 3/12/98. Court of Appeals orders expedited appeal.
- 3/24/98. Deadline for appeal briefs from Appellants, Intervenors, and Amici. (Brief of ATT, MCI, Sprint: 105KB html file.)
- 9/4/98. Opinion of the Appeals Court reversing trial
court. (121 KB HTML file.) (Story.)
- 10/19/98. SBC files Petition for Writ of Certiorari with U.S. Supreme Court.
- 1/19/99. The Supreme Court denies certiorari. (Story.)
Parties and Attorneys.
Courts and Court Personnel.
- Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit.
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas.
- Clerk of the Court, Dallas, 214-767-0787.
- Clerk of the Court, Wichita Falls, 940-767-1902.
- Judge Joe Kendall, 1100 Commerce Street, 16th Floor, Dallas, Texas, 75242-1003,
214-767-8343. Secretary, Valerie Blackwell. Kendall
Telecommunications Act of 1996: "Special Provisions".