Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in TCPA Fax Case Today

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act will be front-and-center before the Supreme Court today, but only as a pawn in a more existential discussion about whether courts have a requirement to accept how a regulator interprets a statute.

PDR Network v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic will be argued before the Supreme Court today, a case in which an unsolicited fax that was sent to the plaintiff by the defendant. PDR sought to have the case dismissed because the fax was not soliciting anything; it was offering a free reference guide. Carlton & Harris countered that even goods and services offered at no cost to the recipient count as a solicitation, based on a 2006 ruling from the Federal Communications Commission.

A District Court sided with the sender of the fax, but that ruling was overturned by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

At issue is the Hobbs Act, which provides a mechanism for judicial review of certain orders from federal regulators. In agreeing to hear arguments on the case, the Supreme Court is seeking to answer one question: Whether the Hobbs Act required the district court in this case to accept the FCC’s legal interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

The Solicitor General’s office earlier this month sought — and was granted — time to argue why challenging the Hobbs Act “undermines the interest of the United States.”

The financial services industry is lining up behind Carlton & Harris, “underscoring the importance of the Hobbs Act’s exclusive review to help ensure regulatory certainty and to protect consumers.”

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