The Supreme Court said it wouldn’t hear arguments in a challenge to the Obama era net neutrality rules that the FCC adopted in 2015 and which was upheld by lower federal courts.
Industry trade groups had challenged the regulations barring broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for speedier service. These rules treated high-speed internet access as a utility, much like phone service.
Three members of the Supreme Court — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — indicated that issue the was essentially moot, given more recent actions by the FCC.
The FCC, under Chairman Ajit Pai, abolished net neutrality rules in June, adopting the deregulatory approach favored by the Trump administration and the telecommunications industry.
Industry trade group USTelecom, one of the groups that challenged the 2015 net neutrality rules, issued a statement saying the high court’s decision “is not surprising” since the ruling had been superseded by the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order.
“USTelecom will continue to support that order from challenges in Washington, D.C. and state capitals,” the trade group said.
Democratic FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who had supported the 2015 Net Neutrality regulations, said, “it wasn’t enough for this FCC to roll back NetNeutrality. It actually petitioned the Supreme Court to erase history and wipe out an earlier court decision upholding open internet policies.”
The issue of net neutrality continues to play out in court.
The Justice Department has filed a suit to block California’s state net neutrality law from taking effect in January. The state agreed in October to delay enforcement of the law pending appeals of the net neutrality reversal.