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July 14, 2020

The Supreme Court Just Weighed in on the TCPA

The Case

In Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, a group of political organizations and polling institutions challenged the constitutionality of a 2015 amendment to the TCPA.  The 2015 amendment allowed the use of an auto-dialer to collect on government-backed debt. 

So, you’re probably wondering where the First Amendment comes in.

In a nutshell, the AAPC argued that the 2015 amendment is a “content-based” exemption (this is where the First Amendment comes in), and therefore collection on government-backed debt should not be favored over the type of political calls made by AAPC.  

The Decision

The Court found that the 2015 exemption was indeed unconstitutional, but rather than opening up the use of an ATDS for other categories, such as political calls, the Supreme Court severed the 2015 amendment from the TCPA itself. Calls to mobile numbers for collection of government-backed debt are now to be treated the same as other calls to mobile numbers. In practical terms, this decision affects only a fraction of the calls covered by the TCPA. For most entities that use autodialed calls, the decision does not affect their operations or their potential liability under the law.

The Impact 

The immediate impact is that the 2015 amendment which permitted autodialed calls to mobile phones intended to collect government-backed debt has been severed from the TCPA. The Court declined to overturn the broader ban on autodialed calls to mobile phones unless the caller has prior express consent. 

The Future

Hot on the heels of this decision, the Court has accepted another case, Facebook v. Duguid, which will review the TCPA’s ATDS definition. 

Check our blog for more information on this news and more insights regarding what it means for your business. 

DISCLAIMER: This article and the statements therein do not constitute legal advice. We urge businesses to consult with their own experienced legal counsel to independently review the topics covered in this article and independently evaluate any compliance measures they undertake.




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