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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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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