Supreme Court declines to take up net neutrality challenges

Mae Love
November 8, 2018

Three of the Court's justices - Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch - would have voted to take up the case, according to the Court's announcement, and overturn a lower court's decision backing the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules, which were originally passed in 2015. The administration told the appeals court last month that if it didn't rule by October 31, the government would go directly to the Supreme Court to seek resolution during the current nine-month term.

The ruling is significant because it allows a previous ruling upholding the constitutionality of the regulations to stand, which may be used as a precedent in the future by another administration. But today the Supreme Court refused to do so.

But the Supreme Court today said it has denied petitions filed by AT&T and broadband lobby groups NCTA, CTIA, USTelecom, and the American Cable Association. Neither Chief Justice John Roberts nor new Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh participated in the decision.

Industry trade group USTelecom, one of the groups that challenged the 2015 net neutrality rules, issued a statement saying the high court's decision "is not surprising" since the ruling had been superseded by the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom Order.

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The new FCC rules went into effect in June.

Should the Supreme Court refuse his request, Francisco pointed out, the administration would be required to continue accepting DACA applications while waiting on California's ninth circuit to rule on the legality of ending the program. The D.C. Circuit Court found that the FCC was well within its authority to adopt net neutrality rules that prevented Internet service companies from blocking, throttling, or otherwise degrading traffic. After the repeal was finalized earlier this year, the FCC and the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to declare the prior decision "moot" and scrap it.

"Let's call this interesting", she added. That suit, which is also pending before the D.C. Circuit, is quickly becoming the center of the legal battle over net neutrality now, with the Supreme Court deciding not to hear its net neutrality case. The Pai-led FCC is defending its net neutrality repeal against a lawsuit filed by dozens of litigants, including 22 state attorneys general, consumer advocacy groups, and tech companies.

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