U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Hear Net Neutrality Challenge

09 November, 2018, 04:12 | Author: Kristen Mcgee
  • The U.S. Supreme Court rejected AT&T's appeal to overturn the 2015 net neutrality rules.                  CNET  Marguerite Reardon

Late Monday the Justice Department announced it was bypassing regional appellate benches and going straight to the high court to gain support for its effort to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

In 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the FCC's regulations protecting net neutrality in United States Telecom Association v.

Three members of the Supreme Court - Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch - said they would have instead vacated the appeals court decision as moot, presumably because the commission reversed itself a year ago, after a change in its membership. President Donald Trump's administration urged the court to take that step, which would have stripped the ruling of any force as a precedent.

In this case, there were no less than seven petitions - each sent by a different arm of the cable industry - asking the Supreme Court to review a decision by the Washington DC Court of Appeals that said the Obama-era rules were legal.

The legal battle over net neutrality will continue and could potentially reach the Supreme Court again in a separate case. Neither gave a reason, but Kavanaugh played a role in the case on the appeals court, saying he would have overturned the net neutrality rule.

In that case - like in the other lawsuits over this issue - challengers say that the White House acted "capriciously and arbitrarily" in ending DACA. The net neutrality rules prevent an internet service provider or a wireless carrier from setting up a fast lane that can be purchased by a company that streams video or audio content. In January, Alsup put the phase-out of the program on hold, saying it would be devastating to the 700,000 affected immigrants. Instead of providing a policy explanation for withdrawing DACA, the Trump administration claims that the program was always illegal.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Steps Down at President Trump's Request
In November 2017, Trump told reporters that "a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Department , including me". Trump announced in a tweet that Sessions's chief of staff Matt Whitaker would become the new acting attorney general .

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.

This is not the first time the federal government has made this request.

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.

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.

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

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