Earlier this week, the US Supreme Court rejected requests from the telecommunications industry to hear an appeal seeking to throw out a 2016 lower court ruling in favor of the “net neutrality” rules. Recent action by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rolled back the rules, but the industry participants also wanted to overturn the lower court decision.
In the 2016 ruling at issue, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit held that the FCC had acted within its powers when it approved the 2015 net neutrality rules that imposed new obligations on internet providers designed to provide for equal treatment of all web traffic.
The recent appeals argued that as a result of the FCC's repeal of the rules, the lower court's decision upholding the FCC's initial implementation of the rules should be overturned. The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the appeals ensures that the lower court's decision will remain and thus preserves that decision as potential support for future claims against the repeal of the net neutrality rules and/or subsequent attempts to reinstitute replacement net neutrality rules.
For now, the Supreme Court's rejection has no immediate practical effect as the net neutrality rules remain repealed. If you'd like a refresher, take a look at our advice on the implications of such repeal here.