In 1991, Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which prohibits robocalls to home and mobile phones. In 2015, Congress amended the TCPA to allow for robocalls made to collect debts owed to the Federal Government. Thereafter, the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) sued, arguing this amendment, and the entire TCPA, violated their First Amendment rights by prohibiting speech based on content. The AAPC argued that Congress was improperly favoring speech about debt collection over political speech, and, as such, the amendment should be found unconstitutional and that all of the TCPA’s prohibitions against robocalls should be struck down.
Last week, in a major victory for consumer rights advocates, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the TCPA in Barr et al. v. American Ass’n of Political Consultants, __ S. Ct. __ (2020). While the Court agreed that the exemption to the TCPA was unconstitutional, it held that this amendment could be severed from the TCPA leaving the robocall restriction in place. In effect, all robocalls and text messages (except for those made for emergency purposes or with prior express consent of the called party), no matter their content, are unlawful.
In writing for the majority, Justice Kavanaugh noted, “Americans passionately disagree about many things. But they are largely united in their disdain for robocalls.” The Supreme Court’s decision maintains the ability of consumers to hold companies and organizations liable for unwanted robocalls and text messages. Click here for more information on federal protections against robocalls.
The consumer rights and class action attorneys at Wanta Thome PLC are committed to stopping illegal texts and robocalls. Contact us for a free consultation.
We are currently conducting an investigation into spam texts and robocalls concerning COVID-19 cleaning services. Read more here.