Washington (July 6, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), one of the original authors of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today hailed the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 and strike down a provision of the 2015 Budget Act that exempts callers collecting debt owed or guaranteed by the federal government from the TCPA. Senator Markey and Congresswoman Eshoo had led an amicus brief in the case, and previously introduced legislation to repeal the 2015 exemption.
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. Preserving the TCPA is crucial to protecting Americans’ privacy and the integrity of our nation’s telecommunications system. With this in mind, Senator Markey and Congresswoman Eshoo led more than a dozen Senate and House colleagues to submit an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to follow long-standing consensus among the nation’s courts in holding that the TCPA is not only constitutional, but vital. The brief also warned that striking down the TCPA would not only be foolhardy but would completely undermine the telephone as a means of communication due to the surge in robocalls that would follow. Today’s decision reaffirms the importance of the TCPA and will ensure that Americans remain shielded from these invasive, illegal calls.
In upholding the TCPA, the Court also struck down a 2015 exception to the law which allowed for government debt collectors to use robocalling technology. Senator Markey and Rep. Eshoo, who introduced the HANGUP Act to repeal the 2015 exception, commended the Court for this decision, as well.
Below is the joint statement from Senator Markey and Congresswoman Eshoo:
“The Court’s decision followed commonsense principles: Americans don’t want to be harassed by robocalls, and Congress has the authority to stop abusive calls. The case for the TCPA has only become clearer since it became law nearly thirty years ago, and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle continue to recognize that blocking these invasive calls is a national priority. Today’s decision preserves the TCPA’s ability to protect Americans from countless unwanted robocalls every year, every day, and indeed every hour and minute.
“The Court rightly found that government debt collectors aren’t entitled to a special exception to the TCPA’s ban on robocalling. Everyone should be held to the same standard, which is something we sought to accomplish when we introduced the HANGUP Act. We applaud the Court’s decision to side with American consumers, protect our right to privacy from these abusive calls, deter countless scams that target our most vulnerable populations, and ensure that our phones will remain usable.”