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Calling 7th Circuit: Robocalls And Federal Preemption

In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act did not preempt an Indiana state law with more restrictive prohibitions on autodialed calls — known as robocalls — potentially shutting out, at least in that circuit, the defense that compliance with the TCPA protects companies from suits claiming violation of stricter state laws. But where the Seventh Circuit may have closed a door, it may also have opened a window with perhaps much more far-reaching implications. In addition to reversing the lower court’s decision that the TCPA preempts Indiana’s autodialer law, the appellate court also remanded the case back to the district court to consider whether the state statute violates the First Amendment by restricting noncommercial political speech. This article discusses the potential impact of this decision on the validity of the Indiana state law and perhaps other similar state laws, as well as the implications that a successful First Amendment challenge in the Patriotic Veterans Inc. v. State of Indiana could have for the applicability of the TCPA itself.

This article was first published in the January 13, 2014 edition of Law360. Permission for article reprint has been granted.