Rep. Eshoo and Senator Markey Statement on Supreme Court Oral Arguments about Robocalls

December 9, 2020
Press Release
Markey and Eshoo led 19 members of Congress in amicus brief in robocall case argued before Supreme Court today


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), the House author of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), released the following statement after listening to oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court in Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid. Eshoo and Markey led 19 members of the House of Representatives and Senate in filing an amicus brief urging the Court to uphold the Ninth Circuit’s decision which found that the TCPA protects consumers from robocalls regardless of whether the robocaller dials telephone numbers stored in a list or uses a system that dials arbitrary numbers produced by a random or sequential number generator.

“Today, the Justices heard loud and clear that the TCPA remains absolutely essential. By restricting robocalls to mobile phones, the TCPA prevents countless unwanted robocalls every minute, hour, day, month and year from intruding on our privacy, scamming our wallets, and overwhelming our confidence in the nation’s telephone networks,” said Rep. Eshoo and Senator Markey. “We are confident that the Court will find that narrowly interpreting the definition of automatic telephone dialing system to exclude certain dialing systems ignores the intent of Congress when the law was enacted with bipartisan support and hurts Americans, as we stated in our amicus brief. The Court must reject efforts to reverse decades of precedent that would enable telemarketers and scammers to initiate billions of automated calls to Americans who have a united distain for intrusive robocalls.”

The plaintiffs in Facebook, Inc. argue that TCPA’s definition of automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) excludes systems that dial pre-stored numbers. The Ninth Circuit rejected this argument. In their amicus brief, the lawmakers led by Senator Markey and Rep. Eshoo urged the Supreme Court to uphold the Ninth Circuit decision because the legislative history of TCPA clearly shows Congress clearly intended for the definition of ATDS to include those dialing pre-stored phone numbers. As the brief asserts, if the Supreme Court overturns the Ninth Circuit’s decision, well-resourced telemarketers would have the ability and incentive to robocall Americans endlessly.

Under the TCPA, automatic telephone dialing systems (i.e., technology that allows someone to make calls without manually dialing a number by hand) and artificial or prerecorded voices may not be used to make calls to cell phones, except with prior express consent of the called party, or if the call is being made for emergency purposes.