Administration asks SCOTUS to bypass appeals, take up DACA case

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected AT&T's appeal to overturn the 2015 net neutrality rules.                  CNET  Marguerite Reardon

Today, the United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the telecommunications industry seeking to vacate the D.C. Circuit's 2016 decision to uphold the FCC's 2015 net neutrality rules.

In doing so, government lawyers sought to bypass federal appeals courts that have yet to rule definitively on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

"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. The Supreme Court's decision won't make a huge difference to an ongoing federal overhaul of net neutrality regulations in the short term, but it could set a precedent for future court cases. The high court doesn't typically take cases before federal appeals courts rule on them. Four of nine justices must agree to hear a case, but only three voted to grant the petitions.

Chief Justice John Roberts and new Justice Brett Kavanaugh didn't participate in the Supreme Court's action.

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The administration's attempt to end the program a year ago was rejected by multiple federal courts and the Department of Homeland Security was ordered to continue accepting renewal applications while the case is adjudicated. The policy reversal went into effect in June. But the justices refused to hear the appeals, leaving the lower court ruling in place.

The case has been before the ninth circuit in San Francisco for six months and the court takes an average of 23 months to issue a final ruling.

The FCC's repeal of net neutrality is also the subject of separate legal battles, after it was challenged by tech companies and advocacy groups, in addition to more than 20 US states. Kavanaugh dissented from the ruling upholding net neutrality rules in 2017, arguing that the rules violate the First Amendment rights of Internet service providers by preventing them from "exercising editorial control" over Internet content. Jonathan Spalter, CEO of USTelecom, and other supporters of the Restoring Internet Freedom order, which negated net neutrality, believe broadband is an information service.

Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas would have granted the industry's request.

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