A group of 22 Democratic state attorneys general, including those from California and New York, have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of tough net neutrality rules for online traffic. Credit: Dreamstime | TNS

Maine will join a lawsuit filed Tuesday by 21 states and the District of Columbia against the Federal Communications Commission for its decision last month to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules, Attorney General Janet Mills announced Tuesday.

The petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., makes formal what Mills and opponents of the FCC’s 3-2 vote have promised: a lawsuit against the federal government.

Net neutrality, a concept set into law under former President Barack Obama, ensures equal access to the internet for consumers. Its repeal could allow internet service providers to block certain content or charge more for various types of internet use. A core fear of opponents is that the price of high-speed access will rise, creating online “fast and slow lanes.”

The suit calls the FCC’s decision “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

Mills cited the fact that more than 400,000 comments submitted to the FCC were fraudulent as a reason for joining the lawsuit.

“If we as Americans cannot trust our government to conduct a truthful and legitimate process for one of the most significant regulatory rollbacks in this country’s history, how can we trust that this is the right decision,” Mills, who is running for governor as a Democrat, said in a written statement.

Concurrent with the lawsuit, an effort to overrule the FCC is also brewing in the U.S. Senate. Fifty senators, including Maine Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, have endorsed a bill that seeks to pass a “resolution of disapproval” under the Congressional Review Act. Such a resolution requires at least 51 votes in the Senate and so far, Collins is the only Republican to support it. If successful, the resolve would then have to clear the House of Representatives and President Donald Trump.

The lawsuit requests that a court determine whether the FCC’s decision was legal and constitutional, according to the Washington Post.

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Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.