Beach Communications (plaintiff) petitioned the federal court of appeals for review of an interpretive ruling of the Federal Communications Commission (defendant). Beach Communications operated satellite television systems that served multiple buildings owned by different parties. The Commission ruled that satellite systems serving multiple buildings owned by different parties were subject to certain federal regulations, whereas satellite systems serving multiple buildings under common ownership were not. The court of appeals found no rational basis for the distinction and held that the exemption to regulation afforded to common ownership systems violated the equal protection guarantees of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The FCC petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.