Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Court upholds Do-Not-Call list

A Denver federal court of appeals ruled Tuesday to uphold the national Do-Not-Call list after the list was challenged on First Amendment grounds.

The list is designed to prohibit telemarketers from calling registered homes.
?The Tenth Circuit?s ruling represents a major victory for American consumers,? said Timothy Muris, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, in a release. ?The court has made it clear that the FTC and FCC can and will continue to protect consumers? privacy at home.?
The Do-Not-Call registry, which currently contains more than 50 million numbers, was ruled unconstitutional in a district court last September because it prohibits commercial calls but not charitable or political solicitation.

Plaintiffs argued commercial speech deserves the same protection under the First Amendment as other types. The federal court, however, defended the distinction.


?The regulation directly advances the government?s interests,? Judge David Ebel said in the ruling, adding that commercial calls serve a more ?fraudulent and abusive? purpose than other types of free speech.

According to the court, there is a ?reasonable fit? between the objectives of the Do-Not-Call registry and the interests of the government.

Nonetheless, there are possible justifications for protection of commercial speech, said UW political science professor Howard Schweber.

?You could make the argument that this takes away a relatively low cost way of reaching people from a business that may not have the resources to use another medium,? Schweber said.
Schweber said the distinctions between commercial and non-commercial speech are not always clear.

?Charitable organizations hire professional fundraising companies that are paid by the number of calls they make,? he said. ?Is this commercial or non-commercial??
The court also stressed the importance of privacy in homes, saying, ?Congress found that for many consumers, telemarketing sales calls constitute an intrusive invasion of privacy.?
Schweber agreed with the judges? reasoning.

?I take the intrusion to the home argument very seriously,? Schweber said. ?I think it?s a perfectly valid social interest for people to want to not be bothered at home.?

Schweber said a ruling solely on the grounds of commercial speech would have been far less persuasive.

?Intrusion is critical,? Schweber said. ?Even with the most protected types of speech, it is the manner in which they are conveyed that can be regulated.?

The court said the Do-Not-Call registry serves as a tool enabling citizens to protect their right to privacy at home.
Despite the court?s decision to uphold the list, the possibility for a reversal still exists.

?The current Supreme Court has been more protective of commercial speech than former ones,? Schweber said.
But for now, FTC chairman Muris remains upbeat about the lists? longevity.

?The program is successfully working to limit unwanted telemarketing calls,? he said. ?We are pleased that this popular program, like America?s dinner hour, will not be interrupted.?

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *