Supreme Court Won’t Hear Net Neutrality Challenges

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear challenges to “net neutrality” regulations adopted in 2015 by the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama administration and upheld by a federal appeals court the next year.

The 2015 regulations had barred broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or content. The rules allowed the federal government to regulate high-speed internet delivery as a utility, like phone service.

Three members of the Supreme Court — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — said they would have instead vacated the appeals court decision as moot, presumably because the commission reversed itself last year, after a change in its membership.

[Net Neutrality has officially been repealed. Read how this could affect you.]

The F.C.C.’s reversal reflected the Trump administration’s deregulatory philosophy. The commission’s chairman, Ajit Pai, said the change would benefit consumers because broadband providers could offer them a greater variety of services. His two fellow Republican commissioners also supported the change, giving them a 3-to-2 majority.

Those new regulations are the subject of a separate challenge pending in the appeals court, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh recused themselves from consideration of the several petitions denied on Monday, which included Berringer v. Federal Communications Commission, No. 17-498.

Follow Adam Liptak on Twitter: @adamliptak.

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