Network neutrality decision likely won't go to Supreme Court


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Supreme Court of the United States, One First Street, NE, Washington, DC, United States

It is unlikely that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia’s ruling upholding network neutrality regulations will see a Supreme Court review, leaving advocates of an open Internet with a historic victory say legal experts on both sides of the debate. Reed Hundt, Federal Communications Commission Chairman during the Clinton administration, said the dissenting opinion — written by Judge Stephen Williams, who was appointed to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 — supports the argument that the FCC has the authority to reclassify internet service as a utility, making it unlikely that the Supreme Court will take up the issue. “I agree with the majority that the Commission’s reclassification of broadband Internet as a telecommunications service may not run afoul of any statutory dictate in the Telecommunications Act,” wrote Williams, who concurred in part and dissented in part. He argued, however, the FCC failed to properly justify why it was reclassifying internet services, saying “its explanation of the policy is watery thin and self-contradictory.” Hundt said the FCC decision settled the matters of law and is among the top victories in the FCC’s history.

“SCOTUS does not take up a case unless there is a split in lower courts,” said Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, an advocacy group that supported the net neutrality rules. John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge, which also supported the FCC’s net neutrality rules, agreed. There is “no legal question for the court to take up,” he said. Even Christopher Yoo, a telecommunications law scholar at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Law who submitted an amicus brief in support of the Internet providers’ argument to strike down the rules, agreed that an appeal would likely be unsuccessful.

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