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SCOTUS Declines Net Neutrality Challenge

By George Khoury, Esq. on November 06, 2018 5:46 AM

In what is being hailed as a victory for net neutrality advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected cert. in the U.S. Telecom Association v. FCC matter.

The case dates back to 2015 and the Obama-era net neutrality policies that were put into place. The telecoms and service providers challenged the law, and failed. And while the Court didn't provide any explanation behind the denial, it's highly likely that the fact that the policies at issue were rescinded by the FCC motivated the justices' decision.

Details of the Denial

While the underlying issue may be moot, and that mootness is more likely than not the reason SCOTUS rejected the petition, the denial leaves the appellate decision intact as good precedent to rely upon. This is significant because the D.C. Circuit upheld the FCC's net neutrality regulations as constitutional, which means that a change in the Administration and FCC's direction could result in similar net neutrality regs being passed. Additionally, there are ongoing challenges to the recession of the Obama-era policies.

Interestingly, despite the mootness, Justices Gorsuch, Alito and Thomas voted in favor of taking up the matter. Notably, a fourth vote couldn't be found, and was likely due to the remaining two conservative leaning justices not voting on the matter in conference. Since this case was on appeal from the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh did not vote on whether to accept cert.. Also, Chief Justice Roberts did not vote either as he apparently owned stock in Time Warner.

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