The federal government will withdraw motion for preliminary injunction while California won’t enforce new law.
Earlier this month, I reported that the Trump administration filed a lawsuit to stop the implementation of California’s state-generated net neutrality rules, which were created in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ending the national version.
It appears that a truce has been declared in the the legal battle.
California has struck a temporary agreement with the Justice Department not to move forward with a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s new net neutrality law, delaying a pivotal legal battle over the future of the Internet.
The Justice Department will postpone its litigation against the state until a separate case directly involving the Federal Communications Commission runs its course, according to court filings Friday. The agreement must be approved by a judge.
As part of the deal, California officials have agreed not to enforce their new rules on broadband providers when the state law — viewed by many as the nation’s toughest — officially takes effect on Jan. 1.
Legal experts anticipated this move.
According to Harold Feld at Public Knowledge, the FCC’s net neutrality order can only be challenged in the D.C. circuit. The pending litigation on the California law, if challenged, would have to be brought to the state’s district court, violating the Hobbs Act. Therefore, waiting for a decision on the federal rule is both parties’s safest bet.
“Ultimately it doesn’t matter how much trash talk you have before the game. Let’s see what happens in the DC circuit,” Feld said.
The federal lawsuit asserts that the state law (SB-822) is preempted by federal law and thus violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. Opponents of the federal order say that the preemption clause forbidding states from passing their own net neutrality bills into law are unenforceable. Under the terms of this truce, the legal proceedings are paused until the appellate resolution of the challenge to the FCC’s net neutrality repeal.
The federal government will withdraw its motion for a preliminary injunction while California agrees not to enforce its own law for the time being.
The case may be re-activated once the Supreme Court either rules on the FCC’s repeal or denies a petition to review whatever the DC Circuit decides. That could take a year or even longer, and of course, federal lawmakers may change the ground to fight on by passing new legislation. A Democratic win in the midterms would help such efforts, though the prospect of a veto from Donald Trump likely puts the outcome of net neutrality in the courts.
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