Nobody Likes Rachel

Nobody Likes Rachel

July 21, 2020

Photo of angry female holding phone receiver and shouting into it

The USA, divided about almost everything, is united in its disdain for robocalls. Writing for the majority, Justice Cavanaugh took note of this fact as the Supreme Court ruled that neither political and polling organizations nor the government itself has the right to robocall you without your permission. Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, Inc., challenged the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), passed in response to consumer complaints about unauthorized calls. The TCPA prohibited almost all robocalls, but in 2015, Congress made an exception that allowed robocalls to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States. The petitioners in Barr, non-profit political and polling organizations, argued that permitting robocalls for collection of government debt, but prohibiting them for all other purposes, was an impermissible content-based restriction on speech, and asked that the entire robocall restriction be struck down, not just the 2015 amendment. On July 6 the Supreme Court invalidated the exception for government-debt calls as unconstitutional, but held that the remainder of the ban was valid, a big disappointment to the pollsters and political organizations that hoped to invalidate the entire TCPA. Does this mean that you won’t be hearing from Rachel? Probably not, unless Cardmember Services creates a new robot.

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