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Internet Can Be Treated as Utility, DC Circuit Rules

In a major ruling last week, the DC Circuit left undisturbed the FCC's decision on forced net neutrality. Internet service providers balked at the notion that the internet should be regarded as a utility. But they will simply have to get used to this new reality.

This decision, which surprised both proponents and opponents alike, means several things, including more litigation.

Students Can Get Discounted FOIA Fees, DC Circuit Rules

Students are educators, too. At least this was the opinion of the DC Circuit, which just opined that documents falling under the FOIA umbrella ought to be cheaper to access for students under the "educational institution" exception.

This appears to be a change in the direction of the FOIA application, as the government has generally held that teachers are eligible for FOIA's reduced fees, but students may not enjoy reduced fees.

Obamacare is unconstitutional, a federal district judge ruled yesterday -- at least as far as the law's reimbursements to insurers are concerned. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must reduce co-payments and deductibles for low-income consumers. The federal government then reimburses insurers for those deductions, at the cost of several billion dollars a year.

But, the ACA did not specifically appropriate money for those reimbursements, and the Obama administration could not cover those payments under other provisions, the court ruled, without violating Congress's exclusive right to control government spending.

No, it's not 2003 anymore, but Netflix still sends millions of DVDs through the Postal Service every week. Indeed, Netflix alone purchases 97 percent of the U.S. Postal Service's "round-trip" mailers, the products that allow you to return a mailed DVD with an enclosed envelope, no extra postage necessary.

Currently, the law restricts how much the Postal Service can charge for those mailers. USPS had recently sought to change that, seeking to raise rates on those red envelopes, but their request was denied by the Postal Regulatory Commission. The Service sued, but the D.C. Circuit declined to undo the Commission's ruling on Tuesday. Netflix customers, your DVD deliveries are safe for now.

Will Scalia's Replacement Come From the DC Circuit?

Now that one of the most dogged voices of social conservatism has passed away, many are wondering what the implications will be for many of the SCOTUS cases that are scheduled to be heard by the justices.

As Capitol Hill sets about tripping over itself after Scalia's death, let's consider what the implications for the DC Circuit will be.

'Coalition' Attempts Fail to Roadblock the EPA's Clean Power Plan

Attempts to block the EPA's Clean Power Plan through the use of a judicial stay have failed and state utilities have been greenlit to begin implementing the CPP. A coalition of various coal and fossil fuel interests failed to convince a panel of judges that they met the "stringent requirements for a pending court review."

This means that the Plan, which seeks to put severe limitations on carbon pollution by existing plants, will be in effect until June.

6 New DC Superior Court Candidates for Obama to Consider

The retirements of Hon. Ann O'Regan Keary and Hon. Harold L. Cushenberry, Jr. from the DC Superior Court leave vacancies that the Judicial Nomination Commission is eager to fill. The Commission recently forwarded a list of nominees to President Obama.

Congress's Democratic leaders want the D.C. Circuit to know they are anything but neutral when it comes to net neutrality. More than two dozen congressional senators and representatives have signed on to an amicus brief supporting the FCC's right to regulate Internet service providers as "common carriers."

The amicus brief puts the Congress members, lead by Senator Edward Markey and Representative Anna Eshoo, against the telecom industry, which has sued to prevent the FCC's new net neutrality rules.

D.C. Cir. Upholds Your Right to Use a Kindle During Takeoff

Back in 2013, the FAA blissfully relaxed restrictions on when personal electronic devices (PEDs) could be used on airplanes. Prior to October 31, 2013, passengers had to wait until the plane was above 10,000 feet before using things like eBook readers and portable video game players.

That all changed -- because those rules weren't grounded in reality -- but the Association of Flight Attendants challenged the law. Last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the challenge.