Supreme Court Throws Out Industry Appeal of Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules

09 November, 2018, 04:12 | Author: Bennie Parsons
  • U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Net Neutrality Appeals After Year DelayMore

President Donald Trump's administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to allow it to end a program introduced by former President Barack Obama that protects thousands of young immigrants who live in the United States without legal status.

The policy has shielded from deportation immigrants dubbed "Dreamers" and given them work permits, though not a path to citizenship. If the program is ended, now protected individuals could be deported, though it's not clear how quickly that might happen.

So what was the telecom industry and its BFFs in the Trump administration trying to do? Multiple judges have blocked that change, and three cases have worked their way to the federal appellate level.

But, last August, lawyers for the FCC and Department of Justice (at direct telecom industry behest) filed a brief (pdf) with the Supreme Court, urging it to vacate the 2016 court ruling that upheld the Wheeler-era net neutrality rules.

The decision to close it down was made in September last year, but the government decided that it would "phase out" the program after six months - that is, by March 5 of this year - in order to give Congress an opportunity to consider authorizing DACA and making it legal.


But the Supreme Court today said it has denied petitions filed by AT&T and broadband lobby groups NCTA, CTIA, USTelecom, and the American Cable Association.

If the new cases proceed at the Court on the regular timetable and review is granted, they could be heard and decided by the end of the current term late in June. After the repeal was finalized earlier this year, the FCC and the Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to declare the prior decision "moot" and scrap it. It means that the D.C. Circuit's court's 2016 decision to uphold "both the FCC's classification of broadband as a telecommunications service, and its rules prohibiting broadband providers from blocking or degrading Internet content, remains in place", senior counsel John Bergmayer of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge said. Oral arguments were held in May, and a decision has not been issued.

That leaves the conservatives with a solid five-to-four majority in the high court, elevating the chance the Trump administration could win support for its stance on DACA.

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. "That is what we have done, and it was the lawful thing to do".

The cases are Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, 18-587; Trump v. The high court doesn't typically take cases before federal appeals courts rule on them. "The irregularity of the government's procedural choices mirrors the irregularity of the government's rescission of DACA itself".

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