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.

Plaintiffs/AppelleesSBC Communications, Inc., and other Bell Operating Companies (BOCs).

Defendants/AppellantsFederal 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:


Chronology with Links to Pleading and Related Materials

Other Resources

Parties and Attorneys.

Courts and Court Personnel.

Telecommunications Act of 1996: "Special Provisions".