Supreme Court refuses anti-net neutrality appeals

Florence Fletcher
November 9, 2018

The Department of Justice has once again petitioned the Supreme Court to intervene in pending cases over the future of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that protects immigrants who were brought to the USA illegally as children.

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal to the 2016 ruling.

In this October 9, 2018 photo, police office guards the main entrance to the Supreme Court in Washington. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, shielding them from deportation and letting them seek work permits.

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.

"It is assumed that the Court of Appeals will proceed expeditiously to decide this case", the Supreme Court's February order read.

Trump announced plans to phase out the program in September 2017, but District Judge John Bates in Washington, D.C., ruled in August that the program must be fully restored.

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The administration told the appeals court last month that if it didn't rule by October 31, the government would go directly to the Supreme Court to seek resolution during the current nine-month term.

The US Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to the net neutrality rules that were introduced in 2015, and which have since been rescinded.

Requests like this-for the Court to review a matter before the appellate courts have issued their own rulings-are rarely granted, but that hasn't stopped Francisco from filing such requests on more than one occasion. As a result of the failed case, the previous DC Circuit court ruling made back in 2016 will stand.

Under the Supreme Court's normal schedule, the justices will say in January whether they will take up the appeals. In the letter, Francisco told the justices that "prompt consideration" of the three cases is essential because nationwide injunctions require the administration to keep the program in place while the litigation challenging efforts to end it continues. 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). The Trump administration is seeking to convince the Supreme Court to consolodate those cases because they make the same substantive objections to the planned DACA recession, and toss them all out on the merits.

Lyle Denniston has been writing about the Supreme Court since 1958.

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