Supreme Court rejects net neutrality appeal

AFP  Getty Images

AFP Getty Images

The Justice Department appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, but it also asked the Supreme Court to weigh in even before the 9th Circuit ruled - a procedure known as "cert before judgment". Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh took no part in the case without offering a reason. After each of those cases resulted in nationwide orders against the Administration, the government filed appeals in three separate appeals courts.

Obama's rules, meant to safeguard equal access to content on the internet, were opposed by Trump, a Republican.

For proponents of net neutrality, Monday's Supreme Court decision represents a victory.

Three conservative judges-Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Samuel Alito, and Justice Neil Gorsuch-were all set to vacate the seven lower court rulings that favored the Obama-era FCC regulations. The Justice Department has also agreed to suspend its recent suit against California over the state's new net neutrality law, at least until the case before the D.C. Circuit is resolved.

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Despite the Supreme Court decision to not hear the case, Republicans remain hopeful that the FCC's vote last December to repeal net neutrality rules will be upheld, though that decision is being challenged before the DC Circuit. The other two cases are not as far along: The federal government filed its notice of appeal from the decision against it in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in August, while oral argument has been scheduled in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit for January 2019.

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. In 2015, the Democrat-led FCC voted to reclassify broadband service as a utility and impose common carrier rules on providers - including bans on throttling, blocking and paid fast lanes.

Federal judges in NY and Washington have also ruled against the Trump administration. They know their repeal of net neutrality was so filled with procedural missteps and outright fraud that they're anxious it will be overturned by next year's net neutrality lawsuits, opening arguments for which begin in February. By declining all seven petitions, the Supreme Court maintains the lower courts' precedents declaring net neutrality a lawful federal regulation.

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