The U.S. Supreme Court, on a 6-3 split decision, has upheld the power of the FCC to mandate that local governments decide whether or not to allow new cell towers to be erected within five months. The decision is a blow to local governments how had contended such a timeline infringes upon local zoning authority.
The decision split the Court’s conservative justices, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing the opinion for the majority, and Chief Justice John Roberts writing the dissent. In the majority opinion, Scalia made a case for limited judicial oversight of regulatory matters, saying that the Courts shouldn’t “waste their time in the mental acrobatics.” Instead deference should be given to the agencies that oversee reasonable regulations.
Los Angeles and San Diego had joined the case with two cities from Texas, claiming that regulations such as these had been left to individual cities.
Chief Justice Roberts disagreed with Scalia and wrote that regulatory agencies such as the FCC can act as legislature, executive, and judicial branches all in one, becoming a fourth branch of the government. Further complicating the broad powers they exert is the non-elected nature of the agencies’ leadership.
Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times.