Law professor appointed to inaugural post with FCC

December 11, 2009Duke Law News

Dec. 11, 2009 — Duke Law Professor Stuart Benjamin has been appointed as the Federal Communications Commission’s first Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski appointed Benjamin to the position on Thursday. Benjamin, Duke’s Douglas B. Maggs Professor of Law will spend the spring 2010 semester in Washington, D.C. working in the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning. He will work on issues relating to spectrum policy and the First Amendment, which have been the focus of much of his scholarly work.

Benjamin is co-author of Telecommunications Law and Policy (1st ed. 2001, 2nd ed. 2006), has written numerous law review articles on spectrum issues, and has provided testimony to the Senate as a legal expert.

“One area I’ve been working on for a long time is spectrum reform, which is hugely important,” Benjamin says. “In order for all of our wireless devices and future wireless devices to work well, we need to have more spectrum available and the ‘low-hanging fruit’ has really already been picked. Now, issues about increasing available spectrum get more and more complex, and require analysis of more moving parts.”

In addition to addressing specific questions about reallocating more spectrum for wireless devices, Benjamin says he will work on long-term, “big-picture policy” for the commission.

“This is a really exciting opportunity,” he says. “So much of my scholarship has revolved around things that the FCC does, and now I actually get to be on the inside, trying to help shape FCC policy, trying to actually do some good from the inside, rather than merely analyzing as an outsider. I feel like there’s an opportunity here to put the kinds of things I’ve been doing in scholarship to good use for the public good.”

Benjamin has clerked for Justice David H. Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court and served as an attorney-advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to joining the Duke Law faculty in 2003 he taught at the University of Texas School of Law.

“Stuart brings a wealth of legal and academic experience, and I am delighted to have him as our first Distinguished Scholar in Residence,” says Genachowski. “I look forward to drawing on his expertise as the Commission pursues smart, fact-based policies that promote competition, innovation, investment, and consumer choice.”
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