The Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission today requested that the Supreme Court vacate an appeals court decision upholding net neutrality in 2016. If the court decides to grant the motion, the previous decision to support the rules would be removed, clearing the path for re-litigation in the future when it comes to classifying broadband.
In December, the FCC voted to undo the 2015 Open Internet Order which established net neutrality rules by forbidding broadband providers from throttling users’ internet speed and blocking legal online content. Months before the Commission voted to roll back the rules last year, telecommunications companies like AT&T were already working the Supreme Court in order to remove the ruling that upheld net neutrality from the judicial record.
If the DOJ and FCC’s request is approved by the court, the previous rules, spearheaded by Tom Wheeler, would be voided from the judicial record. This would allow for fresh litigation in determining how the Communications Act should be used to classify broadband in the future. The new rules are already being challenged in court, and the DOJ and FCC write that the same questions of legal authority and classification can be answered by vacating the 2016 ruling and considering them again in these new challenges.