Legal fight over Indiana’s anti-political robocall law ends

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A Chicago-based veterans advocacy group's seven-year struggle to strike down Indiana's ban on political robocalls has ended with the U.S. Supreme Court declining to review a lower-court ruling upholding the law.

The Supreme Court denied Patriotic Veterans Inc.'s bid for a review of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in January upholding the law that prohibits making pre-recorded phone calls to people without their prior consent.

Patriotic Veterans challenged the law in 2010, saying it violated the First Amendment.

Campaigns and political groups are allowed to make live calls, even to numbers registered on the Do Not Call list, as long as they are not sales calls. However, the law restricts the use of technology that automatically dials residential phone numbers and plays prerecorded messages with few exceptions.

"Every day, telemarketers seek to burden residences with automated, pre-recorded phone calls conveying unwanted messages. Simply put, without this law they would be a nuisance," Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said in a written statement Tuesday.

Patriotic Veterans President Paul Caprio said that the Supreme Court's decision not to review the case could lead to similar legislation in other states. His group now places automated calls in 35 states intended to influence public policy on issues affecting veterans.

"We were very disappointed," Caprio said in a telephone interview. "We thought it dealt with a fundamental First Amendment issue."

He attributed the Supreme Court's decision partly to its large backlog of cases following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year.

The penalty for violating the Indiana Auto Dialer law is up to $5,000 per call, Hill's office said. It said it received more than 15,000 complaints last year about unwanted calls, many of which were about robocalls.

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