The Supreme Court on Friday announced that it was postponing hearing arguments for the month of April as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a decision which delays the outcome in a closely watched Telephone Consumer Protection Act lawsuit.
The Court said it would consider re-scheduling cases before the end of its current term, but may have to push some of the cases to its next term. which starts in October.
In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Court will postpone the oral arguments currently scheduled for the April session (April 20-22 and April 27-29). The Court will consider rescheduling some cases from the March and April sessions before the end of the Term, if circumstances permit in light of public health and safety guidance at that time. The Court will consider a range of scheduling options and other alternatives if arguments cannot be held in the Courtroom before the end of the Term.
The Court will continue to proceed with the resolution of all cases argued this Term. Opinions will be posted on the Court’s Website. The Court is continuing to hold its regularly scheduled conferences and issuing Order Lists.
The Court Building remains open for official business, but most Court personnel are teleworking. The Court remains closed to the public until further notice.
The Supreme Court had been scheduled to hear arguments in Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, a case the addressed a provision within the TCPA, but could have undone the law altogether.
Barr v. AAPC dealt with a provision in the TCPA that allows companies collecting debts on behalf of the federal government to contact individuals on their cell phones using an automated telephone dialing system without needing to obtain prior consent to do so.
Last year, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the exemption from complying with the TCPA was unconstitutional, a ruling that was backed by other Appeals Courts. The Fourth Circuit’s decision did overturn a lower court’s summary judgment ruling in favor of the exemption, saying it does not violate the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.