Supreme Court Rejects Net Neutrality Case

AFP  Getty Images

AFP Getty Images

The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court on Monday to take up a case concerning the government's decision to phase out an Obama-era initiative that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.

Those new regulations are the subject of a separate challenge pending in the appeals court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. AT&T and other telecoms had asked the high court to void the ruling; the Federal Communications Commission repealed net neutrality past year.

But even as the Supreme Court was weighing whether to take up the appeal, the FCC under Republican chairman Ajit Pai moved to rescind those very rules.

The decision by the Supreme Court not to hear the case keeps that ruling in place. The justices did not add any new cases to their docket for the term - they did that on Friday afternoon - nor did they call for the views of the USA solicitor general in any cases.

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

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The FCC's rescission of the net neutrality rule came after Republicans, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, took control of the agency previous year. They have not been in effect since June. "But Chief Justice John Roberts also recused himself - presumably (although there is no way to know for sure) because he owns stock in one of the companies challenging the rules". If the Supreme Court had accepted the petitions or vacated the lower court rulings, doing so would have strengthened the FCC's repeal.

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

Though SCOTUS' decision is a win for net neutrality proponents, the Obama-era rules were gutted by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai in December 2017.

With those justices removing themselves from the process, Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch were outnumbered. The new FCC in 2017 voted to reject much of its authority over internet providers, and handed much of the responsibility for net neutrality to a sister agency, the Federal Trade Commission. The Pai-led FCC is defending its net neutrality repeal against a lawsuit filed by dozens of litigants, including 22 state attorneys general, consumer advocacy groups, and tech companies.

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