Regulatory Litigation

Steptoe is well positioned to guide regulated businesses and industry through the minefield of state and federal regulation.  Our lawyers frequently interact with Congress and state and federal regulators to solve problems for a range of regulated industries, including energy, transportation, communications, and financial services (including the merchant community).   Steptoe has the talent and experience to manage multi-faceted regulatory challenges and develop win-win solutions for stakeholders.  

When legislative and regulatory bodies overstep their authority, Steptoe has substantial experience in litigating challenges to those actions.  Steptoe’s lawyers are drawn from the ranks of the Justice Department, state and federal regulatory agencies, and high ranking Congressional and Executive Branch positions.  They have seen the apparatus of government from the inside and understand both the impact of its decisions on businesses and the proper limits of its authority.  That insight has helped our regulatory litigation practice to successfully challenge the gamut of state and federal regulatory actions.  Our lawyers have assisted clients in setting aside government action that oversteps statutory and constitutional constraints on governmental power.  We have earned significant victories for regulated clients, including First Amendment challenges to government regulation of commercial speech, preemption challenges to overreaching state legislative and regulatory initiatives, and challenges to federal agencies’ failure to implement Congressional policy found in federal statutes.   

Representative Matters

  • PPL EnergyPlus, LLC v. Solomon, 766 F.3d 241, 255 (3d Cir. 2014) & PPL EnergyPlus, LLC v. Nazarian, 753 F.3d 467, 478 (4th Cir. 2014).  Successfully represented electric energy generator in Federal Power Act preemption challenges to state price subsidy schemes.
  • Verizon v. FCC, 740 F.3d 623 (D.C. Cir. 2014)  Argued on behalf of the Open Internet Coalition, intervenor, in favor of the FCC’s authority to regulate Internet access providers under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.  The DC Circuit agreed with our principal argument and upheld the agency’s jurisdiction to protect the Internet but set aside the Agency’s specific rules.
  • Echostar Satellite LLC v. FCC, 704 F.3d 992 (D.C. Cir. 2013)  Successfully represented Echostar before the DC Circuit arguing that the FCC had exceeded its authority when it promulgated the so-called “Plug and Play” rules.  These rules, meant to facilitate the commercial availability of cable television navigation devices, also included limitations on what type of copy restrictions both cable operators and satellite television providers could encode onto digital television streams.  Echostar argued that the FCC lacked a direct statutory basis to apply the rules to satellite television providers, and that the FCC’s ancillary jurisdiction was insufficient to allow the agency to extend the rules to satellite in order to preserve the underlying bargain between cable providers and consumer electronics manufacturers that formed the basis for the rules.  The court agreed, and vacated the rules in their entirety.
  • Parker v. Georgia, (Ga. Super. 2011)Successfully enjoined Georgia Department of Agriculture regulation of discount gas price advertising for violating First Amendment commercial speech standards.
  • Esso Standard Oil Co. v. Freytes, 467 F. Supp. 2d 156 (D.P.R. 2006), aff’d, 522 F.3d 136 (1st Cir. 2008).  Successfully enjoined on the basis of improper bias proceedings of Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board seeking to impose multimillion-dollar environmental fine.
  • American Library Association v. FCC, 406 F.3d 689 (D.C. Cir. 2005)  Successfully represented American consumers and the American Libraries Association before the DC Circuit against the FCC's "broadcast flag" requirement, which would have prevented the Internet redistribution of High Definition television content.

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