The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will hear arguments in a key Telephone Consumer Protection Act case on Wednesday, May 6.
Arguments in the case — Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants — were due to be heard this month, but the Supreme Court first postponed oral arguments in response to social distancing requirements as a means of managing the spread of coronavirus, but then announced it would hear arguments in 10 cases via teleconference — marking the first time ever that the nine Justices will convene remotely.
The irony should not be lost on anyone that the Supreme Court is using the telephone to determine whether the TCPA should be invalidated in part, or entirely. As David Kaminski from the law firm of Carlson & Messer noted earlier this week, “The high Court is likely pushing this case forward, among others, because the public has been clamoring for a hearing so that it can be determined, once and for all, whether the TCPA will stand, will fall, or may be eroded in whole or in part.”
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.