The Fight to Preserve Net Neutrality: Juelsgaard Clinic Students Partner with Santa Clara County Counsel to Challenge FCC Rollback


A free and open internet is one of our most important platforms for freedom of speech, civic engagement, provision of government and private services, and innovation. Students in the Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic have been actively engaged over the last two quarters fighting to preserve the internet as we know it.

On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted the Restoring Internet Freedom order (Order), which reverses vital net neutrality regulations that currently require internet service providers to treat all web traffic the same, without blocking or favoring certain content providers over others. The Order was published in the Federal Register on February 22, 2018, triggering the time period to file legal challenges.


That same day, the Office of the County Counsel and the Juelsgaard Clinic filed a petition for review in the Ninth Circuit challenging the new Order, on behalf the County of Santa Clara and the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District (the County). The Petition explains that the FCC’s reversal of its net neutrality regulations harms the County’s ability to provide critical health, welfare, and safety services via the internet, and threatens the access of county residents to those vital services.

A coterie of public interest organizations, corporations, state attorneys general, and other government entities also filed separate petitions for review in the Ninth and D.C. Circuits challenging the Order. The County filed its legal challenge in the Ninth Circuit, which was then selected in the multicircuit lottery as the venue for the numerous suits against the FCC. The Ninth Circuit consolidated all of the cases but then decided to grant an unopposed motion to transfer the cases to the D.C. Circuit.

Working alongside attorneys in the Office of the County Counsel, Juelsgaard Clinic students Ale Lynberg (’19), Natalie Oveyssi (’19), and Monica Zwolinski (’19), pored through federal and agency procedural rules, studied the documents in the record, participated in more than a few 7:00 a.m. conference calls, engaged in spirited strategy sessions, drafted several versions of petitions, submitted motions and responses, and exchanged hundreds of emails, all to finalize and file the petition for review.

In so doing, they learned that there is a rule for everything except when there isn’t, that even the most seemingly simple of filings is far from it, and that a dynamic and diverse coalition working in tandem can be a powerful force for the common good. This spring quarter, briefing of the complex legal issues has begun in earnest. Juelsgaard students are busily researching the law, crafting strategy, and developing arguments to submit the the DC Circuit. They look forward to continuing to advocate in court for the preservation of an open internet for all. The work is just beginning!