Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Net Neutrality Challenges

AFP  Getty Images AFP Getty Images
| 09 November, 2018, 04:13

The Supreme Court has rejected telecom companies' attempts to quash a lower court's decision that upheld net neutrality rules set during the Obama administration.

Cases challenging the administration's attempts to end protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children are now pending before the Second, Ninth, and D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeals, filed more than a year ago, lost most of their practical significance in June, when a new Federal Communications Commission order took effect and abolished the net neutrality rule.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions now wants the nation's highest court to combine three cases about DACA into a single ruling, because each case makes the same basic arguments about the repeal.

Before Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and friends convinced the Trump FCC to ignore the public and kill net neutrality, they attempted to dismantle the rules legally. And the Justice Department acknowledged in Monday's request that the appeals court ruling is likely to come first.

It takes four of the nine justices to agree to hear a case.


The legality of the program is not at issue in the case. 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 policy has shielded from deportation immigrants dubbed "Dreamers" and given them work permits, though not a path to citizenship.

The lower court rulings left the 700,000 protected but prevented any more from registering for the program. The trial judge refused to rule on that challenge, concluding that the states had waited too long to challenge the original DACA program.

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. Instead of providing a policy explanation for withdrawing DACA, the Trump administration claims that the program was always illegal.

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. The government also asked the court to review all three cases together, but it noted that it had brought them all to the Supreme Court at the same time to ensure that at least one of them would be suitable for review.

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

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