US Supremes Won't Hear Appeal of FCC's 2015 Net Neutrality Order

Angelica Greene
November 8, 2018

In a modest victory for net neutrality supporters, the Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal requested by the telecommunications industry and the Trump administration.

In the meantime Trump has been able to add another conservative justice to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, who was approved in early October.

The rules championed by Democratic former President Barack Obama, meant to safeguard equal access to content on the internet, were opposed by President Donald Trump, a Republican. The Supreme Court said then that the Justices were assuming that the lower court - the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - would "proceed expeditiously to decide the case".

Because none of those appeals courts has yet ruled, the Administration decided last month that it could not wait for that to happen because, it concluded, time was running out for the Supreme Court to review and decide during the current term the legality of the shutdown plan. "USTelecom will continue to support that order from challenges in Washington, D.C. and state capitals".

The justices rejected that request on February 26, but asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to quickly process the case so it could return to the high court in a reasonable timeframe. They have not been in effect since June. The second question is whether, even if courts can review the decision to end DACA, that decision violated various laws governing administrative actions.

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It also aimed to remove the lower court's verdict from the books so that it couldn't be used as a precedent, something that could prove significant given the ongoing legal actions that challenge the FCC's 2017 repeal of net neutrality.

In this October 9, 2018 photo, police office guards the main entrance to the Supreme Court in Washington.

But, last August, lawyers for the FCC and Department of Justice (at direct telecom industry behest) filed a brief (pdf) with the Supreme Court, urging it to vacate the 2016 court ruling that upheld the Wheeler-era net neutrality rules.

The FCC voted 3-2 in December along party lines to reverse the rules adopted under Obama that had barred internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritization.

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

Other reports by GizPress

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