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7th Circuit allows Indiana to enforce ban on out-of-state robo-calls

December 22, 2011

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Indiana is allowed to enforce the statute that restricts out-of-state robo-calls while an appeal on the issue is ongoing.

On Monday, the Indiana attorney general filed a motion to stay the injunction ordered Sept. 27 by U.S. Judge William Lawrence in Indianapolis which blocked the state’s enforcement of the Indiana Automatic Dialing Machine Statute, or Indiana Code 24-5-14-1. Lawrence ruled the state statute is preempted by a more lenient federal law and can’t be enforced against out-of-state callers. That was a victory for the Illinois-based nonprofit Patriotic Veterans that had argued its First Amendment right was being violated because it couldn’t make politically related calls leading up to elections.

Lawrence denied a motion to stay earlier this month, but now this appellate order means Indiana can again enforce the statute.

“This is truly great news – the holiday season for the people of Indiana will include the peace and quiet we have come to enjoy, without the threat of abusive robo-calls,” AG Greg Zoeller said in a statement. “This court action follows the withdrawal of a bill before Congress that would have allowed robo-calls to cell phones. The people of Indiana who appreciate our Do Not Call laws have much to celebrate.”

Last week, U.S. Rep Lee Terry, R-Nebraska, pulled the legislation he sponsored that would have allowed these calls to be made to cell phones. Zoeller traveled to Washington, D.C., to lead an effort against the bill, known as the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011. A joint letter was sent by nearly all state attorneys general asking Congress to oppose the bill.

The future of the Indiana auto-dialer law remains unclear until the 7th Circuit considers the appeal. Briefing is set to conclude by the end of December, according to the federal court docket.

 

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