Judge won't allow auto-dialer statute enforcement during appeal

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Balancing free speech rights with the public interest in preventing automated political calls from out-of-state entities, U.S. Judge William Lawrence in Indianapolis denied the state’s request to continue enforcing Indiana’s auto-dialer statute while a higher court is considering his ruling from two months ago that blocked enforcement.

The Southern District of Indiana judge issued a three-page ruling Tuesday, denying a motion to stay while the underlying case – Patriotic Veterans v. State of Indiana, No. 1:10-CV-723 – is on appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Filed in June 2010, this case involves an Illinois-based nonprofit that sued Indiana on claims that a state law violates the group’s First Amendment rights by not allowing it to make political calls leading up to elections. Patriotic Veterans claimed the Indiana law is preempted by the similar but more lenient federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Unlike the state statute banning all pre-recorded telemarketing calls unless the consumer has given consent, the federal law makes exceptions for nonprofit groups, telephone carriers and politicians.

Lawrence ruled Sept. 27 that the 1986 state statute is preempted by the federal law and cannot be enforced. In footnotes, the judge wrote that he has limited his decision to the preemption issue and is not addressing the First Amendment claims, and that he’s declining to enter a broader injunction that would apply to more than political messages even though the court’s ruling could support that.

After filing an appeal in early October, the state asked Lawrence to stay the injunction while the appeal is active. But the judge found the state’s arguments fell short as to why the injunction should be lifted and the calls should be prevented. He wrote that the state’s reliance on the successful Do No Call Law is misplaced and doesn’t prove that Indiana residents would not want automated calls on political issues.

“Absent the injunction, the Plaintiff would be prohibited from making automated calls to Indiana citizens expressing political views during the upcoming election season,” Lawrence wrote. “The Court finds that this lost opportunity to use an economical and efficient means to engage in the political process would constitute substantial injury to the Plaintiff and others. Given this balance of potential harm, the Court determines that even if it is assumed that the Defendants have shown a likelihood of success on the merits, they are nonetheless not entitled to the extraordinary remedy of a stay pending appeal.”

The appeal is pending before the 7th Circuit and the federal court docket shows briefing is set to conclude by the end of December.



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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.