The U.S. Supreme Court denied nonprofit Patriotic Veterans, Inc.’s petition for review of Indiana’s ban on the use of technology that automatically dials residential phone numbers and plays prerecorded messages. Patriotic Veterans, based in Illinois, uses this “robocall” technology to disseminate pre-recorded messages about political candidates’ positions on issues affecting veterans. In 2010, however, the group was prohibited from placing calls to Indiana telephone numbers, igniting Patriotic Veterans’ first challenge to the law.
Since then, the group has argued before the Seventh Circuit twice in attempts to have the law overturned. They claimed that in addition to being preempted by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the law violates the First Amendment by discriminating against political speech. The Seventh Circuit disagreed both times, holding that the statute is content-neutral, disfavoring all robocalls with limited exceptions and without targeting political expression. In Patriotic Veterans’ petition for writ of certiorari, the group argued that the Seventh Circuit’s decision creates a split with the Fourth Circuit, which recently struck down a similar restriction on automated calls. However, the high Court rejected that argument and Indiana’s ban on robocalls remains standing, for now.
Takeaway: Although the Supreme Court denied certiorari in this case, challenges to state anti-robocall laws remain active throughout the nation. Companies that use automated telephone call technologies should remain vigilant on changes to the robocall laws of the states in which they conduct business.