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CEO DATELINE – Supreme Court rejects association challenge to robocall ban

July 7, 2020
By Walt Williams

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld a federal ban on robocalls that an association representing political consultants said was an unconstitutional restriction on speech, Politico reported.

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In a lawsuit, the American Association of Political Consultants argued that a nearly 20-year ban on robocalls on cellphones was unconstitutional because Congress carved out an exemption in 2015 for calls made by debt collectors for debt owed or backed by the federal government, according to the newspaper. The group said the exemption created a content-based restriction on speech, so the entire law should be struck down.

Ultimately only two justices— Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas—supported eliminating the entire law. The remainder voted to sever the debt collection provision from the rest of the law. The court voted 6-3 against the carveout, saying it violated the First Amendment. As a result, the ban remains in place but without the exemption.

In a statement, AAPC said there remain open questions about the robocall ban “and how it applies to those who engage in First Amendment-protected policy and political discussions.”

“We are grateful that the Supreme Court recognized the importance of the First Amendment and the harms imposed by content-based restrictions on speech but are disappointed that the Court did not rule in favor of the AAPC entirely,” the group said.

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