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

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The case is now before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is widely viewed as a liberal-leaning court.

In opting not to hear the case, SCOTUS leaves in place the existing high court ruling that the FCC has the authority to regulate broadband like a public utility, which supporters of the 2015 Net Neutrality regulations, established by the Obama administration, saw as a win.

Jessica Rosenworcel, the Federal Communication Commission's only Democratic Commissioner, noted that the FCC had argued that because the Trump-era FCC had repealed the 2015 rules, the 2016 decision was moot and should be wiped from the books. "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".

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Net neutrality has become a rallying cry for internet activists and those on the political left, who say that if companies are able to "throttle" traffic to and from some sites, then it would ruin the free-flowing nature of the online community. The net neutrality rules prevent an internet service provider or a wireless carrier from setting up a fast lane that can be purchased by a company that streams video or audio content.

Though SCOTUS' decision is a win for net neutrality proponents, the Obama-era rules were gutted by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai in December 2017.

Even so, in response to that challenge to DACA, the Trump Administration concluded that it could not defend the legality of DACA in its original form. 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.

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Last month, frustrated by delays, the department filed notice that it would seek the high court's intervention if the 9th Circuit court did not rule by October 31. The Supreme Court this week stated it wouldn't be hearing the case (pdf). The court said it believed the lower court "will proceed expeditiously to decide this case". Neither Chief Justice John Roberts nor new Trump appointee Brett Kavanaugh participated in the decision.

United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) president and CEO Jonathan Spalter, echoed that the SCOTUS's vote was expected, as the FCC's more recent Restoring Internet Freedom Order "remains the law of the land…USTelecom will continue to support that order from challenges in Washington, D.C. and state capitals".

The California, New York and D.C. challenges were brought by DACA proponents seeking to block Trump's actions.

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