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States had asked D.C. appeals court to reconsider October decision upholding FCC’s repeal.

The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., the last stop before the Supreme Court, refused last week to reconsider its October ruling that gave a thumbs-up to the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality regulations. The Republican-led commission ditched the Obama-era rules that guaranteed equal treatment for all internet traffic, regardless of its source or destination.

Last October, the appeals court heard a lawsuit brought by the Mozilla Foundation—makers of the open-source web browser Firefox—and several states that challenged the FCC repeal. But in a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge appeals court panel upheld the FCC’s 2017 vote, which finally took effect in June of 2018.

The court’s ruling included one important victory for net neutrality advocates, however. The judges rejected FCC Chair Ajit Pai’s contention that the federal repeal took precedence over all state regulations, prohibiting states from passing their own net neutrality legislation. 

The D.C. appeals court disagreed—freeing states to impose net neutrality rules of their own, on a state-by-state basis.

Nonetheless, Mozilla and the other plaintiffs—including 15 state governments and several tech firms—petitioned the court to hear the case again. At the appeals court level, rulings of an initial three-judge panel can often be reevaluated either by the same trio of judges, or en banc—that is, by the full court, which consists of 11 judges.