Supreme Court Upholds Shot Clock

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States released its decision in City of Arlington, TX et al. v. FCC et al., in which it affirmed in a 6-3 decision the Fifth Circuit’s upholding of the FCC’s Wireless Facility Siting Shot Clock. The decision is available here.

Justice Scalia wrote the decision in which Justices Thomas, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.  Justice Breyer wrote an opinion concurring in part and in the judgment, and Chief Justice Roberts filed a dissent in which Justices Kennedy and Alito joined.

Briefly, the Court held that courts must apply the Chevron framework to an agency’s interpretation of a statutory ambiguity that concerns the scope of the agency’s statutory authority (i.e., its jurisdiction).

The Court also notes that the contention that Chevron deference is not appropriate here because the FCC asserted jurisdiction over matters of traditional state and local concern is meritless because the statute explicitly supplants state authority. Therefore the question is simply whether a federal agency or federal courts will draw the lines to which the States must hew.