Rep. Eshoo and Senator Markey Blast Supreme Court Decision on Robocalls as “Disastrous”

April 1, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to narrowly interpret the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). Senator Markey, one of the original authors of the TCPA, and Congresswoman Eshoo released the following statement and denounced the Court for abandoning consumers and opening the floodgates to untold numbers of new robocalls.

“Today, the Supreme Court tossed aside years of precedent, clear legislative history, and essential consumer protection to issue a ruling that is disastrous for everyone who has a mobile phone in the United States,” said the lawmakers in a joint statement. “It was clear when the TCPA was introduced that Congress wanted to ban dialing from a database. By narrowing the scope of the TCPA, the Court is allowing companies the ability to assault the public with a non-stop wave of unwanted calls and texts, around the clock.

“Fortunately, we can and will act to make right what the Supreme Court got wrong. We plan to soon introduce legislation to amend the TCPA, fix the Court’s error, and protect consumers. If the Justices find their private mobile phones ringing non-stop from now until our legislation becomes law, they’ll only have themselves to blame,” the lawmakers continued.

 A bipartisan Congress enacted the TCPA in 1991 to prohibit companies from engaging in robocalling. Since then, the TCPA has helped block untold numbers of abusive robocalls from invading Americans’ homes and scamming some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens. The legislative history for the TCPA makes it clear that Congress was not only concerned with corporate America randomly generating numbers and calling those numbers, but was also concerned with corporate America buying lists to make telemarketing calls.

With this in mind, Senator Markey and Congresswoman Eshoo led 19 members of Congress to submit an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold the 9th Circuit’s decision in Duguid v. Facebook, Inc, which found that when Congress passed the TCPA, it defined Automatic Telephone Dialing System (“ATDS”) to include systems like predictive dialers that dial telephone numbers stored in a list or database. The brief warned that a narrow reading of the TCPA to exclude dialing from databases would reverse decades of precedent and give a green light to telemarketers and scammers to initiate billions of automated calls and texts to Americans who have a united disdain for intrusive robocalls. Unfortunately, today’s decision makes this a reality, as the TCPA no longer protects consumers from robocall and texting campaigns that can reach every cellular number in the entire country every hour of the day.

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