By Dick Hall-Sizemore
Here is a follow-up on a previous post. The Supreme Court handed down a decision today that will probably be lost in the coverage of its other decision released today, the one about “faithless” Presidential electors. Nevertheless, the decision in that other case, Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, inc., saves us all some aggravation.
Current federal law prohibits robocalls to cell phones, except calls made exclusively to collect a federal debt. The association representing political consultants sued, arguing that the prohibition violated the First Amendment right of its members. In its ruling, the Supreme Court agreed that the law violated the First Amendment, but the political consultants did not get what they wanted. The Court’s ultimate decision was unanimous, but the Justices were remarkably split all over the place about the reasons for the outcome. There were four separate opinions filed.
In the end, the Court ruled that the law “favored debt-collection speech over plaintiffs’ political speech.” Its solution: “We cure that constitutional violation by invalidating the 2015 government-debt exception and severing it from the remainder of the statute.” Thus, our cell phones have been saved from a flood of robocalls asking for our vote and our money. (We may still get them, but they will be illegal calls.)