Federal Court Decides Not to Rehear Net Neutrality Challenge

A federal court on Monday declined to reconsider the telecom industry’s net neutrality challenge since the FCC and its chairman Ajit Pai plan to roll back the Obama-era rules anyway. The decision could set the stage for an eventual appeal to the Supreme Court. Despite Pai’s recent announcement regarding plans to eliminate and possibly replace net neutrality rules, telecoms and their supporters are still seeking court backing to help provide future legal protection. However, Judges Sri Srinivasan and David Tatel wrote that a rehearing “would be particularly unwarranted at this point in light of the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the FCC’s Order.”

Two years ago, companies including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon “sued the FCC for adopting open-Internet protections that subject Internet service providers to some of the same regulations that long have applied to traditional telephone companies,” reports Recode.

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“A three-judge panel on the D.C. circuit initially ruled last June in the FCC’s favor, prompting the group, USTelecom, and its allies in the wireless and cable industries to seek a rehearing before the full court.”

Yesterday, the judges denied the request, specifically citing plans outlined by the new FCC chair.

Conservative advocacy group TechFreedom had joined the appeal, and suggested the decision “clears the way for TechFreedom and other parties challenging the order to take their case to the Supreme Court,” adding that such a move could result in rolling back the power of agencies.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “conservatives on the appeals court used Monday’s announcement to plead for the high court to take the case and side with telecommunications firms.”

“Hopefully, there is a clearer view of the road back to a government of limited, enumerated power from One First Street,” said Judge Janice Rogers Brown.

WSJ adds: “Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who also dissented, said the FCC’s 2015 rule lacked any basis in federal law, raising an issue that might hold interest for the high court — the question of how far regulatory agencies can go in implementing policy where Congress hasn’t carved out clear authority.”