Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of DC Circuit Decision Upholding Net Neutrality Rules

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The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has declined to hear a case regarding the legality of Obama-era Net Neutrality rules-putting an end to a lengthy legal battle by declining to hear USTelecom's appeal.

Late Monday the Justice Department announced it was bypassing regional appellate benches and going straight to the high court to gain support for its effort to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The court's notice says the three justices wanted to "grant the petitions, vacate the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and remand to that court with instructions to dismiss the cases as moot". Although his majority at the Commission has repealed the net neutrality rules, today's decision should weaken those who are contesting the now-binding 2016 DC Circuit Court's decision upholding the rules.

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. The justices did not add any new cases to their docket for the term - they did that on Friday afternoon - nor did they call for the views of the US solicitor general in any cases.

The Supreme Court case therefore could not have had any effect upon the now-repealed regulations themselves, but aimed rather to challenge the FCC's authority to pass such regulations at all. Those extensions gave the FCC time to put the new rule in place before the court acted.

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The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 in December along party lines to reverse the rules adopted under Obama in 2015 that had barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritization. Jonathan Spalter, CEO of USTelecom, and other supporters of the Restoring Internet Freedom order, which negated net neutrality, believe broadband is an information service.

The lower court rulings left the 700,000 protected but prevented any more from registering for the program.

The net neutrality repeal was a win for providers like Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc.

The FCC's repeal of net neutrality is also the subject of separate legal battles, after it was challenged by tech companies and advocacy groups, in addition to more than 20 US states.

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