Sunday, October 27, 2013

Federal Communications Commission v. ITT World Communications, Inc. case brief

Federal Communications Commission v. ITT World Communications, Inc. case brief summary
466 U.S. 463 (1984)

The court granted certiorari to review an order of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, holding that the Sunshine Act, 5 U.S.C.S. § 552b, applied to consultative meetings held by petitioner FCC with foreign governments, and that the district court had jurisdiction to hear respondent carriers' claim that the FCC's participation in the consultative process was ultra vires the FCC's authority.

The FCC held a conference with its European counterparts, termed a "Consultative Process" to exchange information aimed at facilitating joint planning of telecommunications facilities. One object of the conference was to persuade the European nations to cooperate with the FCC's policy of encouraging competition. The carriers, who opposed the entry of new competitors, argued that the FCC's negotiations with the foreign governments were ultra vires the FCC's authority and that the Sunshine Act required that the Consultative Process be held in public.


  • The court held that the district court did not have jurisdiction to enjoin FCC action as ultra vires, because the court of appeals had exclusive jurisdiction over FCC orders. 
  • The Sunshine Act did not require that the Consultative Process sessions be held in public because the participation by FCC members in the sessions constituted neither a "meeting" under 5 U.S.C.S. § 552b(a)(2), nor a meeting "of the agency" under the statute. 
  • Although there was a quorum of the Telecommunications Committee, the committee was not deliberating on matters within its formally delegated authority.

The court reversed the court of appeals' judgment and remanded.

Recommended Supplements for Administrative Law
Examples & Explanations: Administrative Law, Fourth Edition
Administrative Law and Process: In a Nutshell (Nutshell Series)

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