Does a political organization have a First Amendment right to auto-dial
your cell phone? Political groups across the country have filed a lawsuit
against the U.S. Attorney General hoping to change the answer to that
question to yes.
Five political organizations, including a Tea Party political action committee
and the Democratic Party of Oregon, filed a lawsuit against Attorney General
Loretta Lynch challenging the validity of provisions of the Telephone
Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) that prohibit automatic or prerecorded
calls to cell phones.
The groups alleged that the TCPA violates the U.S. Constitution by restricting
free speech on the basis of content. They argue that since congress has
allowed some organizations to get around this ban based on the identity
of the caller or the content of the call, then they should also have an
exemption based on the political importance of their speech.
For instance, the plaintiffs argue that the Federal Communications Commission
has created an exemption to the pre-recorded or automated calls for things
like calls from a person’s wireless carrier, notifications about
package deliveries, healthcare notifications, and exigent financial notifications.
Additionally, the federal government recently added an exemption that
oule allow pre-recorded debt collection calls to cell phones if they are
made to collected on a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States.
Because of these exemptions, the plaintiffs argue that the TCPA is prohibiting
their calls based solely on the content of the calls. Also, the plaintiffs
want the federal judge hearing the case to create an additional exemption
for political speech.
The lawsuit was filed after a similar case came in front of the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In that case, the Fourth Circuit reviewed
South Carolina’s state version of the TCPA, which contained a restriction
on automated or recorded calls of a political nature or relating to a
political campaign. The District Court found the statute unconstitutional
as a content-based restriction on speech. The Court of Appeals agreed,
and affirmed the case, finding that the state’s interest in protecting
consumers from robocalls did not outweigh political free speech rights.
Whether or not the lawsuit against the Attorney General will result in
political robocalls remains to be seen. It can be assumed that the parties
will push for a decision as soon as possible so that they can begin robocalling
constituents before November.
Until a judge says otherwise, receiving unsolicited or automated phone
calls and texts from political campaigns is still a violation of the TCPA.
If you have received nuisance calls from political organizations or other
fundraisers, you may be able to file a lawsuit seeking damages. To learn
more about your legal rights and options, schedule a consultation with
Loan Lawyers. Our Florida debt defense attorneys are skilled in prosecuting
TCPA cases, and will help you get compensation for your annoyance.
Schedule a free consultation at Loan Lawyers today by calling (888) FIGHT-13
(344-4813). Don’t wait to get the help you need!