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Stop Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh to protect free software!

by Molly de Blanc Contributions Published on Aug 07, 2018 11:26 AM

United States Supreme Court judges serve from the time they are appointed until they choose to retire -- it's a lifetime appointment. One judge recently stepped down, and Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to fill the empty seat. He comes with a firm stance against net neutrality.

Last year he wrote:

Supreme Court precedent establishes that Internet service providers have a First Amendment right to exercise editorial discretion over whether and how to carry Internet content.

Here, Kavanaugh argues that controlling the way you use the Internet is a First Amendment right that ISPs -- companies, not people -- hold. The First Amendment, which guarantees Americans the right to free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom to congregate, is one of the most dearly-held amendments of the United States Constitution. With this statement, he says that net neutrality protections -- policies that prevent companies from "editorializing" what you see on the Web -- is a violation of the Constitution. He believes net neutrality is unconstitutional. We know he's wrong.

We need you to contact your congressional representatives, asking them to vote against Kavanaugh's bid for the Supreme Court of the United States.

Why does net neutrality matter to free software?

There are so many reasons why we think net neutrality is important -- and why it's necessary for free software. We'll briefly mention that:

  • Free software is built collaboratively by using Web tools and Internet connections around the world.

  • Free software is most easily discoverable thanks to pages like the Free Software Directory.

  • Need to update your system or software quickly? You need an Internet connection to make that happen.

  • Organizations like the FSF use the Web to educate and share free software ideology and tools.

  • The FSF itself is run by a small team spread across the globe. Every day we use tools like IRC to communicate and work for user freedom together, with one another, and with you.

  • We promote decentralized free software replacements for centralized software services, and losing net neutrality means that centralized services will have a huge built-in advantage.

Without a free Web and Internet, what we can do online will be limited by what ISPs like Comcast and Verizon want. They will have the legal right to control which Web sites we can access and how fast that access will be -- and they will take advantage of their new ability to extort even greater fees from Web sites and consumers alike.

Call, microblog, or write

Call your senators!

Don't know who to call?

  • Call your Senator directly. Find their number here.

  • Dial the Senate at (202) 224-3121 and they will connect you.

(Note: The number for the the Senate is a switchboard that will direct your call.)

If you're looking for help knowing what to say, try:

Hi, I'm [NAME] from [PLACE]. I think Brett Kavanaugh is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. His position against net neutrality is harmful to all users of the Internet. Please vote against his nomination to the Supreme Court. Thank you.


Many Senators are on microblogging services. You can microblog at yours!


Keep Brett Kavanaugh off #SCOTUS for #freesoftware's sake.

Keep #netneutrality, protect #userfreedom, vote against Brett Kavanaugh #SaveSCOTUS

A vote against Kavanaugh is a vote for #netneutrality! #SaveSCOTUS

Writing to your Senators

If you're more comfortable reaching out to your senators over email, do it! Their email addresses are available online. If you're looking for ideas, try out:

Dear [SENATOR], I'm [NAME] and I live in your district. I am deeply troubled by the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. He has come out against net neutrality, which is necessary for a free Web, a free society, and user freedom (). If Kavanaugh becomes a Supreme Court Justice, the threat to net neutrality is undeniable. Thank you, [NAME]

If your senator [voted for the CRA][5], consider thanking them for that as well.

Why does the Supreme Court matter for net neutrality?

While the regulations that are used to protect net neutrality are currently under the Federal Communication Commission, they might not stay this way. Should an Internet Service Provider (ISP) decide to sue for the "right" to ignore net neutrality protections, it is possible such a case would reach the Supreme Court. Should this happen, Kavanaugh's anti-net neutrality opinions could have a serious impact on our digital rights.

More on net neutrality from the FSF

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