Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
IT | By Emmett Cole

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Net Neutrality Challenges

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Net Neutrality Challenges

Administration lawyers on Monday filed three separate appeals, each asking the Court to review and overturn the lower court orders that have kept the program intact and urging the Justices to do so without waiting for rulings by federal appeals courts, where those three cases are now under review.

The Supreme Court declined to take up a challenge to a set of robust net neutrality rules put in place by the FCC in 2015, but this is by no means the end of the legal thicket over rules of the road for the internet.

The Trump administration previous year announced its plan to phase out the program, but federal courts have ruled variously that the phase-out could not apply retroactively and that the program should be restarted.

The decision [PDF] removes one piece of a jigsaw of legal cases working their way through the law courts that challenge both the 2015 rules - introduced during the Obama Administration under FCC chair Tom Wheeler - and the more recent 2018 rules - introduced during the Trump Administration by FCC chair Ajit Pai.

Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch said they would have taken up the case and vacated the lower court ruling as moot, presumably because of the Trump administration changes.

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 Supreme Court decided on Monday that it will not consider a series of challenges from telecom companies to Obama-era net neutrality rules created to bar internet service providers from manipulating loading speeds for specific websites or apps. The fact that the FCC had already voted to repeal net neutrality late a year ago made this challenge by the telecom industry a moot point.

The Supreme Court case therefore could not have had any effect upon the now-repealed regulations themselves, but aimed rather to challenge the FCC's authority to pass such regulations at all.

Last month, frustrated by delays, the department filed notice that it would seek the high court's intervention if the 9th Circuit court did not rule by October 31. But in September 2017, the the Trump administration announced its plans to terminate DACA, making some of the 800,000 young adults who qualified for the program eligible again for deportation. The first is whether the Trump administration's decision to end DACA is something that courts can review at all, or whether it is instead the kind of decision left to administrative agencies.

Lyle Denniston has been writing about the Supreme Court since 1958.

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