Supreme Court Throws Out Industry Appeal of Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules

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Three of the Court's justices - Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil M. 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 high court decision not to throw out the 2016 U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruling leaves a legal precedent in place that could help net neutrality supporters in any future legal battle if that policy is ever re-introduced.

Several broadband companies had asked the high court to take up the matter, saying the Federal Communications Commission overstepped its powers when it announced new rules in 2015 requiring internet service providers to treat all online traffic the same. While neither of the latter Justices cited a reason for dismissing themselves from the appeal, Justice Kavanaugh had been involved in the initial ruling while seated on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Today's decision is not an indication of the Court's views on the merits but simply reflects the fact that there was nothing left for the Court to rule on", the Internet and Television Association said.


The issue of net neutrality continues to play out in court.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration similarly attempted to jump the line and appeal to the Supreme Court after another lower court ordered that DACA resume.

That is the lead case that the Administration appealed to the Justices on Monday.

The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in the case pending before it in May but has not yet issued a ruling.


The legal moves reflected a desire by conservatives and industry players to cement the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules, which were created to restrict Internet service providers' ability to manipulate loading speeds for specific websites or apps. To date, the program has shielded some 700,000 immigrants from deportation.

USTelecom downplayed the importance of the court ruling in a statement.

The decision to close it down was made in September last year, but the government decided that it would "phase out" the program after six months - that is, by March 5 of this year - in order to give Congress an opportunity to consider authorizing DACA and making it legal.

Even so, in response to that challenge to DACA, the Trump Administration concluded that it could not defend the legality of DACA in its original form.


On the merits of the dispute, the Trump administration contends that its decision to terminate DACA can not be reviewed in court, since the program exists entirely at the executive branch's discretion.

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