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Justices uphold Indiana robo-calls ban

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The Indiana Supreme Court has held the state can continue enforcing a ban on automated robo-calls, with four justices finding that enforcement does not violate the Indiana Constitution’s free speech rights.

The majority ruled Thursday in the case of State of Indiana v. FreeEats.com, et al., No. 07S00-1008-MI-411, which involves a Brown Circuit case that began in 2006 when automated phone messaging operator FreeEats.com sought to overturn the Indiana Autodialer Law that banned unsolicited calls with automated messages. This case focused on a company making the calls on behalf of the Economic Freedom Fund during the 2006 congressional campaign, and FreeEats.com argued that the state requirement of using a live operator on the phone before any prerecorded message could be delivered was a free speech infringement.

Special Judge Kenneth Todd had granted in part and denied in part a preliminary injunction request from FreeEats.com and the state appealed, presenting this case for the justices’ consideration.

Writing for the 4-1 court, Justice Steven David held that the live-operator requirement does not violate free speech rights or the right to participate in political speech. Although the trial court didn’t address the First Amendment question and the justices declined to consider that, they did expand on the court’s rationale in why that claim would likely fail. The Indiana justices relied on an 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in 1995 and found the Indiana statute is content-neutral and that the restriction on speech is made through private channels to reach private residences.

The court found the Autodialer Law serves a significant government interest in trying to prevent unwanted calls, and the statute leaves open many other forums of communications that could be used to send the same message. FreeEats’ concerns about increased costs don’t invalidate the statute, the court said.

“A conclusion that a statute violates the state constitution when it increases the economic costs to engage in political expression, without any showing that the right to political expression no longer serves its purpose, would be unsound,” David wrote. “Although the Autodialer Law’s live-operator provision is a less-than-ideal requirement for FreeEats, it is not a material burden on its right to engage in political expression.”

Justice Frank Sullivan disagreed with the majority, agreeing with the special judge that the statute in this case imposes an unconstitutional material burden on political speech under the state and federal constitutions. He wrote a 15-page dissent explaining his disagreement, saying he would hold the law fails to satisfy the level of intermediate scrutiny applicable to content-neutral laws, that the statute isn’t narrowly tailored, and that it conflicts with precedent from the Supreme Court of the United States.

 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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