U.S. Supreme Court Disallows Debt Collection Robocalls

July 8, 2020

U.S. Supreme Court Disallows Debt Collection Robocalls

Banning Debt Collection Robocalls

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a 2015 law that allowed federal government debt collection robocalls to cell phones, declaring that the law violates the First Amendment as it favors debt-collection speech over other speech.  

While the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) prohibits almost all robocalls, Congress amended the law in 2015 to add “a new government-debt exception that allows robocalls made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States.” Now, the ruling invalidates the 2015 government-debt exception from the TCPA statute.

“As the Government concedes, the robocall restriction with the government-debt exception cannot satisfy strict scrutiny,” states the ruling. “The Government has not sufficiently justified the differentiation between government-debt collection speech and other important categories of robocall speech, such as political speech, issue advocacy, and the like.” Consequently, Government-backed loans including student loans, home mortgages, veterans’ loans, farm loans, and business loans will be affected by the ruling.

The ruling was a result of the American Association of Political Consultants and three other organizations attempting to invalidate the entire TCPA. Wanting to make political robocalls to cell phones, the organizations argued that the government-debt exception unconstitutionally favors debt-collection speech over political and other speech by allowing only debt collection robocalls. As a result, the debt-collection provision was re-examined by the Supreme Court.

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