Supreme Court rejects net neutrality appeal

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

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

The appeal sought to challenge a lower court ruling that upheld Obama-era net neutrality rules that banned Internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to certain websites, CNBC reported. The court's notice says the three justices wanted to "grant the petitions, vacate the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and remand to that court with instructions to dismiss the cases as moot".

But the Supreme Court today said it has denied petitions filed by AT&T and broadband lobby groups NCTA, CTIA, USTelecom, and the American Cable Association. 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. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh took no part in the case without offering a reason.

The legal moves reflected a desire by conservatives and industry players to cement the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules, which were created to restrict Internet service providers' ability to manipulate loading speeds for specific websites or apps.

The justices did not act on several petitions that they have now repeatedly considered at their private conferences, including a challenge to mandatory bar dues, a case involving whether individuals can bring lawsuits to challenge a state's disqualification of a Medicaid provider, and the case of a high-school football coach who contends that his First Amendment rights were violated when he was sacked for praying on the field after a game. Meanwhile, Roberts has a financial portfolio that includes investments in Time Warner, according to Bloomberg's Matt Schettenhelm.

In September 2017, the government announced plans to phase out the program, but lower court judges blocked the administration from doing so and ordered that renewals of protections for recipients continue until the appeals are resolved. "The ISPs went all out to push FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to repeal the agency's net neutrality rules - and then ran to the Supreme Court looking for a do-over on earlier cases that rightly upheld those rules". The D.C. Circuit upheld the regulations, prompting industry groups to escalate the case to the Supreme Court.

She added, "Let's call this interesting".

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