Published: Fri, November 09, 2018
Tech | By Tabitha Holland

US Supremes Won't Hear Appeal of FCC's 2015 Net Neutrality Order

US Supremes Won't Hear Appeal of FCC's 2015 Net Neutrality Order

In a modest victory for net neutrality supporters, the Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal requested by the telecommunications industry and the Trump administration.

Industry trade group USTelecom, one of the groups that challenged the 2015 net neutrality rules, issued a statement saying the high court's decision "is not surprising" since the ruling had been superseded by the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom Order.

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 past year, after a change in its membership.

A federal circuit court of appeals in Washington, D.C., upheld those rules as legal - though under the Trump administration the FCC has canceled them.

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

The issue of net neutrality continues to play out in court. In a brief two-sentence order in February, the court rejected the government's request "without prejudice" - leaving the government the option to file another petition for review later on, presumably after the 9th Circuit ruled on its appeal.

It takes four of the nine justices to agree to hear a case. Sensing that those efforts might succeed, Texas and seven other states filed a separate lawsuit in hopes of having the program declared illegal.

"Absent prompt intervention from this court, there is little chance the court would resolve this dispute for at least another year", Francisco wrote in a letter to the Supreme Court.

The new rules, which gave internet service providers greater power to regulate the content that customers access, are now the subject of a separate legal fight after being challenged by numerous groups that backed net neutrality. The goal was to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children, but many Republicans called it executive overreach and have remained opposed to the program. The document noted that the Ninth Circuit Court had held a hearing on May 15, but has not yet issued any ruling. The trial judge refused to rule on that challenge, concluding that the states had waited too long to challenge the original DACA program.

Sessions went on to explain how the Trump administration has the power to end DACA, because it was put in place by the Obama administration without approval from Congress or the courts. The first is whether the Trump administration's decision to end DACA is something that courts can review at all, or whether it is instead the kind of decision left to administrative agencies. His work has appeared here since mid-2011.

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