Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of DC Circuit Decision Upholding Net Neutrality Rules


The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a net neutrality appeal that could have reduced US regulators' ability to pass future neutrality regulations and may have had an impact on ongoing challenges that aim to reinstate net neutrality rules.

The court on Monday rejected appeals from the telecommunications industry seeking to throw out a lower court ruling in favor of the "net neutrality" rules.

The US Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to the net neutrality rules that were introduced in 2015, and which have since been rescinded.

In this October 9, 2018 photo, police office guards the main entrance to the Supreme Court in Washington. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch indicated that they would have opted for Munsingwear vacatur, which would have left the D.C. Circuit's ruling without any precedential value.

The FCC itself also was in favor of voiding the decision that upheld its 2015-era rules, according to Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat on the commission.

Amy Howe of SCOTUSBlog explained that Kavanaugh was "expected to recuse himself from voting on the petitions because he had participated in the cases while on the D.C. Circuit, and he did".

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Under the Supreme Court's normal schedule, the justices will say in January whether they will take up the appeals.

The administration's attempt to end the program a year ago was rejected by multiple federal courts and the Department of Homeland Security was ordered to continue accepting renewal applications while the case is adjudicated. "The ISPs went all out to push FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to repeal the agency's net neutrality rules - and then ran to the Supreme Court looking for a do-over on earlier cases that rightly upheld those rules".

Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO of USTelecom, an industry trade group, pointed out that the FCC's 2017 ruling overturning net neutrality stands.

She added, "Let's call this interesting".

As one of the plaintiffs in the case, TechFreedom, notes, Kavanaugh wrote "a powerful dissent from the D.C. Circuit's decision a year ago not to rehear a panel decision upholding the 2015 Order". "There was absolutely no reason for the Supreme Court to take this case, and today's denial puts to bed the chances of upending the correct appellate-court decisions".