Indy Star: Vets group petitions Supreme Court to hear robocall case (In the News)

Indy Star: Vets group petitions Supreme Court to hear robocall case

By Fatima Hussein

A group called Patriotic Veterans Inc. is appealing a 7th Circuit Court ruling that said Indiana has a legitimate interest in blocking unwanted, or annoying, automatically dialed phone calls.

The leaders of the veterans advocacy group say there’s a more important principle at stake: the First Amendment right of free speech…

In 35 states, the Patriotic Veterans group places automated calls meant to influence public policy on issues “that matter to veterans and other voters,” its president Paul Caprio told IndyStar. The calls “encourage veterans and others to address their grievances to government officials and facilitate contact between voters and their representatives.”

But Indiana law, particularly Indiana’s Automatic Dialing Machine Statute, bars prerecorded telephone calls that contain political messages…

The statute precludes Patriotic Veterans from placing robocalls even to those who wish to receive them. Violating the law’s prohibition on political speech is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by 60 days in prison and a fine for each call.

Caprio said he sees Indiana’s regulation on robocalls as a way “to protect legislators who don’t want the annoyance of hearing their constituents’ voice.” 

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.