626 F.3d 586 (D.C. Cir. 2010), 09-1310, Kristin Brooks Hope Center v. F.C.C.

Docket Nº:09-1310.
Citation:626 F.3d 586
Opinion Judge:WILLIAMS, Senior Circuit Judge:
Party Name:KRISTIN BROOKS HOPE CENTER, Petitioner v. FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION and United States of America, Respondents.
Attorney:Barbara A. Miller argued the cause of the petitioner. With her on the briefs were Danny E. Adams and Ira T. Kasdan. Pamela L. Smith, Counsel, Federal Communications Commission, argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief were Catherine O'Sullivan and Robert J. Wiggers, Attorneys, U.S. ...
Judge Panel:Before: HENDERSON, Circuit Judge, WILLIAMS and RANDOLPH, Senior Circuit Judges.
Case Date:December 03, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
 
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Page 586

626 F.3d 586 (D.C. Cir. 2010)

KRISTIN BROOKS HOPE CENTER, Petitioner

v.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION and United States of America, Respondents.

No. 09-1310.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.

December 3, 2010

Argued Nov. 9, 2010.

On Petition for Review of an Order of the Federal Communications Commission.

Page 587

Barbara A. Miller argued the cause of the petitioner. With her on the briefs were Danny E. Adams and Ira T. Kasdan.

Pamela L. Smith, Counsel, Federal Communications Commission, argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief were Catherine O'Sullivan and Robert J. Wiggers, Attorneys, U.S. Department of Justice, Austin C. Schlick, General Counsel, Federal Communications Commission, Jacob M. Lewis, Acting Deputy General Counsel, and Daniel M. Armstrong, Associate General Counsel. Robert B. Nicholson, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, and Richard K. Welch, Deputy Associate General Counsel, Federal Communications Commission, entered appearances.

Before: HENDERSON, Circuit Judge, WILLIAMS and RANDOLPH, Senior Circuit Judges.

OPINION

WILLIAMS, Senior Circuit Judge:

The Kristin Brooks Hope Center (the " Center" ) is a nonprofit organization that has operated suicide prevention hotlines since 1998. With the Center facing financial difficulties that risked causing the hotlines' disconnection, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (" SAMHSA" ) asked the Federal Communications Commission in December 2006 to reassign five of the Center's toll-free hotline numbers to SAMHSA. The FCC granted the request in part, temporarily reassigning three numbers in January 2007. That November, SAMHSA requested that the FCC make the reassignment of numbers permanent. The Center protested, but the FCC granted SAMHSA's request. The Center now argues that the FCC's decision to permanently reassign the numbers was " arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law." 5 U.S. C. § 706(2)(A). We agree.

* * *

In 1998 H. Reese Butler founded the Center in the memory of his late wife, who had committed suicide while suffering from post-partum depression. The Center operates several toll-free suicide prevention hotlines that route callers to a trained crisis counselor in the caller's local area. The numbers at issue here, 1-888-SUICIDE, 1-800-SUICIDE, and 1-877-SUICIDA, were among the Center's earliest hotline numbers. Over time the Center has expanded to include many other numbers, including some targeted at particular at-risk groups, such as veterans, new mothers, and young people.1 The Center's goal is to operate and publicize these hotlines; it does not run the counseling centers or train the counselors.

In 2006, the Center found itself in serious financial trouble. For some years, it had received funds as a subcontractor to the American Association of Suicidology, which in turn was funded by a government grant. The Center's funding dried up when the Association's grant expired in 2005. The Center eventually fell behind in payments to its then current phone service provider and was in default of payment to its former provider. (It appears to have had trouble only with 1-800-SUICIDE, evidently because usage on the other hotlines was much lighter.) In August 2006,

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Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt wrote to the Chairman of the FCC to request that the FCC reassign 1-800-SUICIDE from the Center to SAMHSA, a subagency of HHS. Letter of Aug. 25, 2006. SAMHSA supports suicide prevention efforts, including operation of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), a hotline, not unlike those of the...

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