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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. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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