Department of Justice drops suit against California net neutrality rule, but broadband providers are still fighting it

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The Biden administration has abandoned a Trump-era lawsuit that sought to block California's network neutrality law. In a court filing, the Dept of Justice said it "hereby gives notice of its voluntary dismissal of this case." Shortly after, the court announced that the case is "dismissed in its entirety" and "all pending motions in this action are denied as moot." The case began when former President Donald Trump's DOJ sued California in Sept 2018 in US District Court for the Eastern District of California, trying to block a state net neutrality law similar to the US net neutrality law repealed by the Ajit Pai-led Federal Communications Commission. Though Pai's FCC lost an attempt to impose a blanket, nationwide preemption of any state net neutrality law, the US government's lawsuit against the California law was moving forward in the final months of the Trump administration. The Biden DOJ's voluntary dismissal of the case puts an end to that.

California still has to defend its net neutrality rules against a separate lawsuit filed by the major broadband-industry lobby groups. The industry groups representing all the biggest ISPs and many smaller ones filed an amended complaint against California in Aug 2020, claiming the net neutrality law is "unconstitutional state regulation."  "Those of us who support SB822, the California law, believe that challenges to the law lack a valid basis," said Benton Institute Senior Counselor Andrew Jay Schwartzman.  "In light of the fact that the FCC disclaimed any jurisdiction over broadband Internet service, the FCC's claim of a policy of 'non-regulation' leaves the states free to regulate." Schwartzman and the Benton Institute are helping California defend the law in court. A hearing on the industry's motion for preliminary injunction is scheduled for Feb 23.

“By taking this step, Washington is listening to the American people, who overwhelmingly support an open internet, and is charting a course to once again make net neutrality the law of the land,” said Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

US drops suit against Calif. net neutrality rule, but ISPs are still fighting it U.S. Drops Challenge to California’s Net-Neutrality Law (WSJ)