Supreme Court To Decide Constitutionality of Government-Backed Debt Exception

TCPA Connect

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to weigh in on the constitutionality of the exception to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for government-backed debt, namely whether that exception violates the First Amendment and whether the proper remedy for a constitutional violation is to remove the exception from the remainder of the TCPA.

In 2015, Congress carved out an exemption to the TCPA for automated calls related to the collection of debts owed to or guaranteed by the federal government. The American Association of Political Consultants sued the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), arguing that the exemption was unconstitutional.

A North Carolina federal court sided with the FCC, but the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, reversed. The federal appellate panel severed the exemption and left the rest of the statute in place.

The Ninth Circuit followed suit, reaching a similar conclusion, as have district courts in Delaware, Florida and Massachusetts.

After losing in the Fourth Circuit, the government filed a writ of certiorari. The Court granted the petition. Oral argument will be heard later this year, with a decision expected by the end of the term in June.

To read the cert petition in Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, click here.

Why it matters: With the question of the government-backed debt exemption’s constitutionality making its way through courts around the country, the Supreme Court’s cert grant comes as welcome news to resolve the dispute.

manatt-black

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING

pursuant to New York DR 2-101(f)

© 2020 Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.

All rights reserved