A federal appeals court denied the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's request to postpone oral arguments in a challenge before the court to the commission’s order that repealed net neutrality rules.
Oral arguments for a challenge to the order led by browser developer Mozilla Corp. are currently slated for Feb. 1 before the U.S. Court of Appeals before the District of Columbia Circuit.
On Jan. 15, the FCC filed a motion with the court requesting that the oral arguments be postponed due to the shutdown. The commission argued that its attorneys needed more time to prepare for oral arguments as a law known as the Antideficiency Act only allows voluntary services for federal government work on "emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property."
The court's Jan. 17 decision to deny the request is consistent with the court's recent announcement regarding its operating schedule stating that oral arguments for both January and February will go on as scheduled.
Though the court says that Mozilla's appeal of the FCC's net neutrality order will proceed as scheduled, the shutdown has put the court's pending operations in question.
Currently, the federal courts estimate they have enough funds to continue operating through Jan. 25. However, a Jan. 16 news release from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts warns that at some point in the near future, existing funds will run out, raising the possibility that it will not have enough funds to carry out normal operations on Feb. 1.
In the event that the federal courts run out of money, it is unclear if the net neutrality case will fall under the mission-critical work included in the limited functions allowed under that circumstance.