Lesley Stedman Weidenbener reports that the Indiana Supreme Court will consider the robo-call statute. At issue is whether the ban on robocalls should apply to political messages.
I’ve actually written quite a bit about this issue as it turns out. With respect to the decision on appeal, I posted this back in February:
I havenâ€™t read the judgeâ€™s opinion, but as described, I donâ€™t think it holds water. The statute does a few things â€” it specifies types of messages to which the statute does not apply â€” e.g. messages from schools to students or parents. Significantly, political messages are not in this list of exempt messages. Secondly, it defines commercial telephone solicitations and imposes restrictions on commercial telephone solicitations above and beyond the restrictions it places on solicitations via robocall generally. There is nothing in the text of the law itself that strongly suggests an allowance for robocalls to be used to spread political messages. There are at least two provisions that suggest that the regulation extends beyond commercial messages. So, unless there is something a bit more nuanced than reported about the judgeâ€™s decision, Iâ€™m going to predict this one gets overturned on appeal.
The State Republican and Democratic Parties are urging an interpretation that allows the automated phone calls. The Attorney General is trying to make sure a live person is involved when any of these calls are made to citizens. A recorded message is actually permitted under the statute, but it must be preceded by a live phone call and agreement by the recipient to receive the recorded message. (Or a recipient must have previously “opted-in” to receive such phone calls.)