Supreme Court won't throw out ban on robocalls to cellphones

A group of fundraisers, political organizations and pollsters filed a lawsuit alleging the prohibition was unconstitutional.
Image: A man uses his cell phone in New York's Times Square on March 5, 2020.
A man uses his cell phone in New York's Times Square on March 5, 2020.Johannes Eisele / AFP via Getty Images file

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By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to strike down a federal law banning automated calls to the nation's cellphone users.

By a vote of 6-3, the court rejected a challenge to a federal law passed in 1991, the Telephone Consumer Protect Act, intended to stop the nuisance of computer-dialed cellphone numbers. In 2015, Congress added an exception to the law, allowing robocalls made to collect debts owed to the federal government.

A group of fundraisers, political organizations, and pollsters filed a lawsuit, claiming that the revision made the law unconstitutional because it discriminated on the basis of the content of the call. A victory for them would have unleashed automated calls to cellphones just as the 2020 presidential election campaign heats up.

But the court said the provision applying to government debts could be stricken from the law, allowing the general ban on robocalls to stand.