Trump Administration Returns To Supreme Court, Seeking End To DACA

AFP  Getty Images

AFP Getty Images

The legal fight over a 2016 lower court ruling upholding Obama-era net neutrality regulations aimed at ensuring a free and open internet - rules that have since been repealed by President Donald Trump's administration - came to a formal end on Monday, with the US Supreme Court declining to take up the matter. But the U.S. Department of Justice told the Supreme Court Monday that action is needed in the near term.

The "DACA" program - formally, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - was created by the Obama Administration, and has spared almost 700,000 immigrant youths from being sent back to countries from which they came as children with their parents.

The decision [PDF] removes one piece of a jigsaw of legal cases working their way through the law courts that challenge both the 2015 rules - introduced during the Obama Administration under FCC chair Tom Wheeler - and the more recent 2018 rules - introduced during the Trump Administration by FCC chair Ajit Pai. The D.C. Circuit upheld the regulations, prompting industry groups to escalate the case to the Supreme Court.

The Administration began its effort to close out the program 14 months ago, but the plan met prompt challenges in federal trial courts across the nation, resulting in orders at least temporarily requiring the government to continue operating the program as is.

AT&T and other telecoms had asked the high court to void the ruling; the Federal Communications Commission repealed net neutrality previous year.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who served as acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration, said the Justice Department has shown serious disregard for ordinary judicial process in the DACA case and other disputes in a Monday evening tweet.

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It also aimed to remove the lower court's verdict from the books so that it couldn't be used as a precedent, something that could prove significant given the ongoing legal actions that challenge the FCC's 2017 repeal of net neutrality. In January, Alsup put the phase-out of the program on hold, saying it would be devastating to the 700,000 affected immigrants.

The Supreme Court's brief order noted that three of the court's conservative justices - Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch - would have thrown out the appeals court decision.

That court, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, heard arguments in May but hasn't ruled.

The FCC's reversal reflected the Trump administration's deregulatory philosophy.

On the merits of the dispute, the Trump administration contends that its decision to terminate DACA can not be reviewed in court, since the program exists entirely at the executive branch's discretion.

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