The rules, which were issued in 2015, have since been replaced by a 2018 order by the Federal Communications Commission eliminating net neutrality, so the justices were not expected to weigh in on the merits of these cases.
The ruling is significant because it allows a previous ruling upholding the constitutionality of the regulations to stand, which may be used as a precedent in the future by another administration.
By a 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Court denied petitions brought by AT&T and broadband lobby groups NCTA, CTIA, USTelecom, and the American Cable Association. Instead, lower courts are examining how the government chose to wind it down. Newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts both recused themselves from the petitions. Three of the court's conservative judges - Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas - voted to hear the case.
Network neutrality forbids providers from creating paid "fast lanes" that offer better service for certain products or users.More news: Cameroon leader Paul Biya’s inauguration overshadowed by mass kidnapping
Today, over a year after the petitions seeking review of the D.C. Circuit's decision were filed, a divided Supreme Court simply declined to consider the cases, leaving the D.C. Circuit's decision in place. They give internet service providers greater power to regulate the content that customers access, are now the subject of a separate legal fight after being challenged by numerous groups that backed net neutrality.
Although the Supreme Court rarely grants requests to bypass the appeals court stage, the DACA case involves unusual circumstances.
Jessica Rosenworcel, the Federal Communication Commission's only Democratic Commissioner, noted that the FCC had argued that because the Trump-era FCC had repealed the 2015 rules, the 2016 decision was moot and should be wiped from the books.
California has voted in new net neutrality laws, but the Department of Justice has taken legal action to prevent them from coming into effect in January.
Net neutrality has become a rallying cry for internet activists and those on the political left, who say that if companies are able to "throttle" traffic to and from some sites, then it would ruin the free-flowing nature of the online community.