Here's a short version of the story:
In early 2011 Esri contacted the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) about submitting the GeoServices REST API as a candidate OGC standard. Discussions pro and con appeared for two years. Here's an example from James Fee; a search on “OGC REST” turns up many more. The candidate specification came up for a vote this spring.
Letters to OGC members from a group of concerned parties and an open letter from the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) board with some 134 signatories earlier this month encouraged voting members to vote "no" on the candidate specification.
The OGC, per its Policies and Procudures, suspended the vote to provide a response (pdf) to "no" votes. Now comes word that the OGC REST Geoservices Software Working Group is recommending to the OGC voting members that the candidate specification be withdrawn. It seems likely that will come to pass in the next two weeks.