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., et al., No. 07S00-1008-MI-411, which involves a Brown Circuit case that began in 2006 when automated phone messaging operator 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 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 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. Freedom From Religion Foundation: If you really want to be free from religion, don't go to the Christmas Play or the Christmas Pageant or the Christmas Parade. Anything with "Christ" or Saint...fill in the blank...would be off limits to you. Then leave the rest of us ALONE!

  2. So the prosecutor made an error and the defendants get a full remedy. Just one short paragraph to undo the harm of the erroneous prosecution. Wow. Just wow.

  3. Wake up!!!! Lawyers are useless!! it makes no difference in any way to speak about what is important!! Just dont tell your plans to the "SELFRIGHTEOUS ARROGANT JERKS!! WHO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN ANOTHER MAN/WOMAN!!!!!!

  4. Looks like you dont understand Democracy, Civilized Society does not cut a thiefs hands off, becouse now he cant steal or write or feed himself or learn !!! You deserve to be over punished, Many men are mistreated hurt in many ways before a breaking point happens! grow up !!!

  5. It was all that kept us from tyranny. So sad that so few among the elite cared enough to guard the sacred trust. Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. Sophocles No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt That was the ideal ... here is the Hoosier reality: The King can do no wrong. Legal maxim From the Latin 'Rex non potest peccare'. When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal. Richard Nixon