Supreme Court rejects net neutrality appeal

A rubber stamp stamping the word

A rubber stamp stamping the word

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused a request by the Trump administration and the telecommunications industry to wipe away a lower court decision that had upheld Obama-era net neutrality rules aimed at ensuring a free and open internet, though the justices' action does not undo the 2017 repeal of the policy. Providers complained that the rules were overly burdensome and a violation of the FCC's congressionally granted powers; consumer advocates said the rules were necessary as a vital consumer protection.

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 petitions for writs of certiorari are denied", the official announcement said, but then added: "Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, and Justice Gorsuch would grant the petitions, vacate the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and remand to that court with instructions to dismiss the cases as moot".

That's easily in net neutrality activists' best interest. Neither Chief Justice John Roberts nor new Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh participated in the decision. He also claimed net neutrality "violates the First Amendment". In his ruling on U.S. Telecom Association, Kavanaugh called net neutrality "unlawful" as the 1934 Communications Act "does not supply clear congressional authorization for the FCC to impose common carrier regulation" on internet service providers (ISPs). Roberts owned stock in AT&T-owned Time Warner, while Kavanaugh took part in the case when he was a judge on the DC Circuit appeals court, Bloomberg Supreme Court Reporter Greg Stohr noted.

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The net neutrality repeal was a win for providers like Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc. That still remains federal policy. By declining all seven petitions, the Supreme Court maintains the lower courts' precedents declaring net neutrality a lawful federal regulation.

The GOP-led effort to repeal the FCC's net neutrality rules set off a separate round of litigation, as tech companies and consumer groups sued to block the deregulation.

Police officers stand in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. "Let's call this interesting".

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