Net Neutrality Ruling Rejected By The US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected AT&T's appeal to overturn the 2015 net neutrality rules.                  CNET  Marguerite Reardon

The Supreme Court rejected requests by the broadband industry and the Trump administration to vacate a lower court's 2017 decision that upheld the Obama-era net neutrality rules, which prohibited broadband providers from blocking or throttling traffic and from charging higher fees for prioritized delivery.

"Much of the current FCC's argument [against net neutrality] depends on ignoring or contradicting the DC Circuit's earlier findings, but now that these are firmly established as binding law, the Pai FCC's case is on even weaker ground than before", Bergmayer said.

The appeals, filed more than a year ago, lost most of their practical significance in June, when a new Federal Communications Commission order took effect and abolished the net neutrality rule.

In court papers, Solicitor General Noel Francisco asked the justices to take up the case this term and argued that district judges who had issued opinions against the administration were "wrong" to do so. The Supreme Court this week stated it wouldn't be hearing the case (pdf). 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. Those extensions gave the FCC time to put the new rule in place before the court acted.




The action Monday was the first on a gun rights issue since conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by President Donald Trump, joined the court last month. 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.

United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) president and CEO Jonathan Spalter, echoed that the SCOTUS's vote was expected, as the FCC's more recent Restoring Internet Freedom Order "remains the law of the land…USTelecom will continue to support that order from challenges in Washington, D.C. and state capitals". "But Chief Justice John Roberts also recused himself - presumably (although there is no way to know for sure) because he owns stock in one of the companies challenging the rules". Instead, lower courts are examining how the government chose to wind it down.

The FCC's rescission of the net neutrality rule came after Republicans, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, took control of the agency a year ago. But today the Supreme Court refused to do so. They know their repeal of net neutrality was so filled with procedural missteps and outright fraud that they're anxious it will be overturned by next year's net neutrality lawsuits, opening arguments for which begin in February.

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