Federal Judge William T. Lawrence has issued a permanent injunction this afternoon against the enforcement of Indiana’s Automated Dialing Machine Statute (“IADMS”), Ind. Code 24-5-14 with regard tointerstate calls made to express political messages.
The case is Patriotic Veterans v. State of Indiana, ex rel. Greg Zoeller. From the opinion:
Plaintiff Patriotic Veterans, Inc., is an Illinois non-profit corporation that exists for the purpose of informing voters of the positions taken by candidates and office holders on issues of interest to veterans. In furtherance of its mission, the Plaintiff wishes to place automated interstate telephone calls to Indiana residents to communicate political messages relating to particular candidates or issues. If the IADMS did not exist, the Plaintiff “would place automated phone calls related to its mission to Indiana Veterans and voters.” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has declined to exempt political calls from enforcement under the IADMS1 and would seek fines and injunctive relief against the Plaintiff if it placed automated political calls to Indiana residents. Indeed, violation of the IADMS constitutes a Class C misdemeanor. Ind. Code 24-5-14-10. * * *
Specifically, the Plaintiff alleges that the IADMS is unenforceable, at least as applied to political messages, because it violates the First Amendment. The Plaintiff also alleges that the IADMS is preempted by the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 (“TCPA”). Because “federal courts are supposed to explore all non-constitutional grounds of decision first, to ensure against unnecessary constitutional adjudication,” [cites omitted by ILB] the Court will consider the parties’ preemption arguments first. * * *
For the reasons set forth above, the Court determines that the IADMS is preempted by the TCPA as it applies to the interstate use of automatic telephone dialing systems. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS the Plaintiff’s request for an injunction against enforcement of the IADMS with regard to interstate calls made to express political messages. See Complaint at 8 (asking Court to “enter a permanent injunction enjoining the Defendants and their agents from taking any action under or to enforce or implement the ADMS with respect to political calls and interstate communications”). Defendant Greg Zoeller, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the State of Indiana, is hereby ENJOINED from enforcing the IADMS, Indiana Code 24-5-14-1, et seq., with respect to any interstate telephone call made to express a political message.
For background, see this Sept. 16th Fort Wayne Journal Gazette story by Niki Kelly, headed “Zoeller warns politicos not to ‘robo-call.'”