Supreme Court Won’t Hear Net Neutrality Challenges

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

While the Trump-era FCC has since repealed net neutrality, companies such as AT&T and Verizon brought the appeals court ruling to the Supreme Court along with six other cases, all in the hopes of officially removing the court's decision supporting net neutrality.

According to the Supreme Court announcement today, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch "would grant the petitions, vacate the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [which upheld the FCC's net neutrality order], and remand to that court with instructions to dismiss the cases as moot".

The Administration had tried previously to get the Supreme Court to review the shutdown plan prior to a ruling at the appeals court level, but the Justices refused last February to take on a case that began in federal court in San Francisco. The high court doesn't typically take cases before federal appeals courts rule on them.

Behind those two issues are a series of individual questions about the constitutionality of the shutdown and its legality under federal immigration and court procedure laws. The D.C. Circuit Court found that the FCC was well within its authority to adopt net neutrality rules that prevented Internet service companies from blocking, throttling, or otherwise degrading traffic.

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.

USTelecom downplayed the importance of the court ruling in a statement. To date, the program has shielded some 700,000 immigrants from deportation. The Trump administration is seeking to convince the Supreme Court to consolodate those cases because they make the same substantive objections to the planned DACA recession, and toss them all out on the merits. The court said it believed the lower court "will proceed expeditiously to decide this case". But there were not enough justices for a majority, after Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh recused themselves. "To protect this institution from being implicated in the Trump administration's electoral ploy, the Supreme Court should reject the administration's request". The Supreme Court's arguments calendar usually fills up by mid-January, so, unless the ninth circuit issues an expedited ruling, it's unlikely the administration would have the opportunity to challenge the ruling before the High Court before next year.

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