ILNews

Federal judge reaffirms ban on political ‘robocalls’ in Indiana

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Just weeks ahead of Indiana’s presidential primary, a federal judge reaffirmed Indiana’s ban on automated telephone calls for political purposes.

The political action committee Patriotic Veterans Inc. failed to prove its First Amendment rights were violated under Indiana’s Automated Dialing Machine Statute, I.C. 24–5–14–1, which broadly prohibits autodialed telephone calls that announce recorded messages.   

District Judge William T. Lawrence of the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted summary judgment to the state Thursday in Patriotic Veterans Inc. v. State of Indiana, et al., 1:10-cv-723.

In ruling for the state and denying the PAC’s motion for summary judgment, Lawrence ruled Indiana’s statute “is content neutral and is a valid time, place, or manner restriction on speech, and, accordingly, it does not violate the First Amendment.”  

Patriotic Veterans Inc. brought the current challenge after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the organization in 2013, holding that Indiana’s law was not preempted by the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Lawrence wrote in a footnote that a prior Indiana attorney general had found an exception for political calls under the Indiana law, but “Attorney General (Greg) Zoeller recognizes no such exclusion with regard to the IADMS and has expressly reminded Indiana’s political parties that the statute does not exempt political calls. He also has stated that he intends to actively enforce the statute’s provisions.”

Indiana’s May 3 primary is expected to play a larger-than-usual role in both the Democratic and Republican parties nominating contests. But Lawrence wrote that the Indiana statute does not unconstitutionally restrict speech, even though political callers are effectively banned from using robocalls.

“Contrary to the Plaintiff’s claim, the [Indiana law] does not ‘eliminate[] their ability to have a voice in the marketplace of ideas when elections, votes, or other dialogue of political importance occurs,’” Lawrence wrote. “The Plaintiff has pointed to evidence that the cost of live operator calls is about eight times more expensive … and that calls cannot always be made fast enough for the messages to be delivered in the time allotted.

“However, as the Defendants note, the Plaintiff has ample other means with which to deliver its message, including live telephone calls, consented to robocalls, radio and television advertising and interviews, debates, door-to-door visits, mailings, flyers, posters, billboards, bumper stickers, e-mail, blogs, [I]nternet advertisements, Twitter feeds, YouTube videos, and Facebook postings. The Plaintiff is not entitled to its first or best choice or even one that provides the same audience. Ample alternative channels of communication remain open to the Plaintiff.”

In a statement Friday, Zoeller called the ruling a victory for privacy rights.

“This important ruling ensures Indiana’s strict telephone privacy laws remain intact. Hoosiers value their privacy and do not want to be bombarded with unwanted robocalls. As I've said many times, robocalls are the tools of scam artists. There are plenty of legitimate, lawful ways to contact people and disseminate political information, but blasting out pre-recorded messages to thousands of numbers at a time with no regard for privacy is not one of them,” he said.

Zoeller said unwanted calls remain the top consumer complaint his office receives. Nearly 14,000 such complaints were received last year, most of which concerned robocalls. The penalty for violating the Indiana Auto Dialer law is up to $5,000 per call.

Last month, Zoeller warned political campaigns to adhere to state telephone privacy laws and refrain from robocalling residents leading up to the 2016 primary election and the general election on Nov. 8.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. @BryanJBrown, You are totally correct. I have no words, you nailed it.....

  2. You have not overstated the reality of the present situation. The government inquisitor in my case, who demanded that I, on the record, to choose between obedience to God's law or man's law, remains on the BLE, even an officer of the BLE, and was recently renewed in her contract for another four years. She has a long history in advancing LGBQT rights. http://www.realjock.com/article/1071 THINK WITH ME: What if a currently serving BLE officer or analogous court official (ie discplinary officer) asked an atheist to affirm the Existence, or demanded a transsexual to undergo a mental evaluation to probe his/her alleged mindcrime? That would end a career. The double standard is glaring, see the troubling question used to ban me for life from the Ind bar right here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners (see page 8 of 21) Again, what if I had been a homosexual rights activist before law school rather than a prolife activist? A gay rights activist after law school admitted to the SCOTUS and Kansas since 1996, without discipline? A homosexual rights activist who had argued before half the federal appellate courts in the country? I am pretty certain that had I been that LGBQT activist, and not a pro-life activist, my passing of the Indiana bar exam would have rendered me an Indiana attorney .... rather than forever banished. So yes, there is a glaring double standard. And some are even beyond the reach of constitutional and statutory protections. I was.

  3. Historically speaking pagans devalue children and worship animals. How close are we? Consider the ruling above plus today's tidbit from the politically correct high Court: http://indianacourts.us/times/2016/12/are-you-asking-the-right-questions-intimate-partner-violence-and-pet-abuse/

  4. The father is a convicted of spousal abuse. 2 restaining orders been put on him, never made any difference the whole time she was there. The time he choked the mother she dropped the baby the police were called. That was the only time he was taken away. The mother was suppose to have been notified when he was released no call was ever made. He made his way back, kicked the door open and terrified the mother. She ran down the hallway and locked herself and the baby in the bathroom called 911. The police came and said there was nothing they could do (the policeman was a old friend from highschool, good ole boy thing).They told her he could burn the place down as long as she wasn't in it.The mother got another resataining order, the judge told her if you were my daughter I would tell you to leave. So she did. He told her "If you ever leave me I will make your life hell, you don't know who your f!@#$%^ with". The fathers other 2 grown children from his 1st exwife havent spoke 1 word to him in almost 15yrs not 1 word.This is what will be a forsure nightmare for this little girl who is in the hands of pillar of the community. Totally corrupt system. Where I come from I would be in jail not only for that but non payment of child support. Unbelievably pitiful...

  5. dsm 5 indicates that a lot of kids with gender dysphoria grow out of it. so is it really a good idea to encourage gender reassignment? Perhaps that should wait for the age of majority. I don't question the compassionate motives of many of the trans-advocates, but I do question their wisdom. Likewise, they should not question the compassion of those whose potty policies differ. too often, any opposition to the official GLBT agenda is instantly denounced as "homophobia" etc.

ADVERTISEMENT