Supreme Court Upholds TCPA, Severs Government Debt-Related Calls Exception

In a widely anticipated decision, the Supreme Court held today in Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s exemption for government debt-related calls is unconstitutional. The court severed the exemption and upheld the rest of the TCPA.

In 2015, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, which exempted from the TCPA’s prior express consent requirement calls “made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States.” The plaintiffs in Barr v. AAPC asserted that this exemption is unconstitutional under the free speech clause of the First Amendment, and that this renders the entire TCPA unconstitutional.

The Federal Communications Commission is considering issuing a re-interpretation of the TCPA in light of a 2018 federal appellate decision that invalidated important aspects of the FCC’s prior interpretations. ABA has urged the FCC to interpret the statute to facilitate the important–and often time-sensitive–calls that banks and other businesses make to their customers.