Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Industry | By Dora Warner

Supreme Court declines to consider challenge to decision upholding net neutrality rules

Supreme Court declines to consider challenge to decision upholding net neutrality rules

The legal fight over a 2016 lower court ruling upholding former President Barack Obama's net neutrality regulations came to an end on Monday, with the Supreme Court declining to take up the matter. But there were not enough justices for a majority, after Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh recused themselves.

Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas would have granted the industry's request.

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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.

The Administration began its effort to close out the program 14 months ago, but the plan met prompt challenges in federal trial courts across the nation, resulting in orders at least temporarily requiring the government to continue operating the program as is. In one of the briefs (all of which were signed by U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco), the government told the justices that the 9th Circuit heard oral argument in the case on May 15 but has not yet issued its decision.

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The reason Big Cable persisted in that challenge - even after the rules were struck down by Pai's FCC - is because it fears the decision will act as a legal precedent against the new rules when yet another lawsuit is heard.

"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. "By virtue of the district courts' orders, DHS is being required to maintain a discretionary policy of non-enforcement sanctioning an ongoing violation of federal law by more than half a million individuals". The telecommunication industry group originally sued the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) under the belief that the FCC lacked the authority to impose public-utility, common-carrier obligations on broadband internet access service. 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. Kavanaugh dissented from the ruling upholding net neutrality rules in 2017, arguing that the rules violate the First Amendment rights of Internet service providers by preventing them from "exercising editorial control" over Internet content. It was opposed by internet companies like Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc, which have said the repeal could lead to higher costs.

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