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

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The Federal Communications Commission's 2015 order to impose net neutrality rules and strictly regulate broadband was already reversed by Trump's pick for FCC chairman, Ajit Pai.

The Trump administration and internet service providers had asked to justices to wipe away the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that had temporarily preserved the net neutrality regulations championed by Democratic former President Barack Obama.

The Supreme Court in June 2017 declined to hear a similar case challenging California's policy toward carrying guns in public.

Three members of the Supreme Court - Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch - indicated that issue the was essentially moot, given more recent actions by the FCC. But there were not enough justices for a majority, after Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh recused themselves.

That's important because it give an indication of how the conservative side of the court will vote when the issue of net neutrality does eventually make its way to the country's highest court. USTelecom said it would "continue to support" the repeal "from challenges in Washington, D.C. and state capitals". But today the Supreme Court refused to do so. By declining all seven petitions, the Supreme Court maintains the lower courts' precedents declaring net neutrality a lawful federal regulation.

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The Justice Department also has filed suit to block California's state net neutrality law from taking effect in January.

"Much of the current FCC's argument [against net neutrality] depends on ignoring or contradicting the DC Circuit's earlier findings, but now that these are firmly established as binding law, the Pai FCC's case is on even weaker ground than before", Bergmayer said.

A federal appeals court had upheld the rules, which prohibit internet providers from blocking or throttling content or selling off "fast lanes" of traffic so websites can get speedier access to consumers.

The net neutrality repeal was a win for providers like Comcast Corp CMCSA.O , AT&T Inc T.N and Verizon Communications Inc VZ.N . It was opposed by internet companies like Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc, which have said the repeal could lead to higher costs.

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