Wednesday, October 25, 2006

don't touch that auto-dialer

automated political phone calls are still illegal in indiana:

A federal judge has ruled Indiana can block a California-based group from making automated calls that attacked Democratic congressional candidate Baron Hill, who is challenging Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel in the 9th District.

In September, Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter sued the Economic Freedom Fund in Brown County after receiving 12 consumer complaints about the calls, which are prohibited by state law unless previously agreed to by the recipient. The fierce 9th District race was expected to be one of the closest in the country as both parties fight for control of the U.S. House., the Virginia company that made the calls on behalf of the Economic Freedom Fund, later filed a federal lawsuit against Indiana claiming that its ban on such calls is an unconstitutional restraint on free speech and interstate commerce.

Tuesday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney denied FreeEats' motion, saying the automated calls ban does not violate the First Amendment nor restrain interstate commerce.

Earlier this month, the company lost a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to a North Dakota law that bars telemarketers from making prerecorded interstate calls to that state's residents.

it was surprising that freeeats had the audacity to sue the state, considering the brazen "push poll" nature of the anti-hill calls. now they've lost, and even if they appeal, there isn't enough time for anything to happen before election day.

of course, it was also a bit surprising when carter announced earlier this year that he would begin enforcing the ban, which was apparently passed in 1988 but has been ignored since then. still, you can't say that carter is being partisan in his enforcement—this, the highest-profile case, was against his fellow republicans. and automated phone calls have pretty much been carter's signature issue: he championed indiana's extremely popular do-not-call list.

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