February 18, 2004
Appeals court upholds Do Not Call law

This is welcome news.

A federal appeals court upheld the government's do-not-call registry Tuesday, dismissing telemarketers' claims that it violates free speech rights and is unfair because it doesn't apply to charities and political solicitations.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called the registry "a reasonable fit."

"We hold that the do-not-call registry is a valid commercial speech regulation because it directly advances the government's important interests in safeguarding personal privacy and reducing the danger of telemarketing abuse without burdening an excessive amount of speech," the court said.


The appeals court overturned U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham of Denver, who said the list violated free-speech rights by barring calls from businesses but not charities.

"As a general rule, the First Amendment does not require that the government regulate all aspects of a problem before it can make progress on any front," the appeals court said.

The court also said there was no evidence suggesting charitable or political callers were as troublesome as general telemarketing calls.

The registry "offers consumers a tool with which they can protect their homes against intrusions that Congress has determined to be particularly invasive," the court said.

"Just as a consumer can avoid door-to-door peddlers by placing a 'No Solicitation' sign in his or her front yard, the do-not-call registry lets consumers avoid unwanted sales pitches that invade the home via telephone," the court said. "We are convinced that the First Amendment does not prevent the government from giving consumers this option."

The court consolidated the appeal of Nottingham's decision with two related challenges: a case brought against the Federal Communications Commission by Denver telemarketers and the FTC's appeal of a ruling in Oklahoma that said the agency had no authority to create and enforce the list.

I strongly disagreed with Nottingham's ruling, and am very pleased to note that the appeals court saw things more or less my way. I hope this settles the matter.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 18, 2004 to Legal matters | TrackBack