Speed Reads

Strange Bedfellows

NAACP, Jesse Jackson oppose Obama's net neutrality push

You know a policy debate in Washington is interesting when President Obama and Justice Antonin Scalia are on one side and Rev. Jesse Jackson and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are on the other.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering re-classifying broadband internet as a more heavily regulated Title II utility, like phone service, a goal backed by Obama and, in a 2005 Supreme Court dissent, Scalia. Opposed to this move are a group of civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, and the Urban League. These groups say they oppose the plan out of fear that it would curb investment in minority-heavy neighborhoods that don't have good broadband internet access, among other concerns.

Plenty of civil rights groups support re-classifying broadband as a Title II service to promote net neutrality, the idea that all internet traffic be treated equally. "The civil rights community is like every sector anywhere," Cheryl A. Leanza, at the United Church of Christ Office of Communication, tells The New York Times. "While from the outside it seems like a monolith, it is not." The NAACP and other black and Latino advocacy groups are a small part of the massive lobbying effort directed at the FCC over the proposal.