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Client Win: United States Supreme Court Upholds Federal Ban on Most Robocalls, as Urged in Greene Espel Pro Bono Amicus Brief

Since 1992, federal law has prohibited most robocalls to mobile phones. In January 2020, the United States Supreme Court decided to review an effort to strike down that ban based on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Associations of local governments and their officials asked Greene Espel to submit an amicus brief to the Court on their behalf, urging the Court to leave the prohibition in place on grounds protective of the legislative prerogatives of public officials. Our firm filed that amicus brief without charge on March 2, 2020. Working with the State and Local Legal Center in Washington D.C., Greene Espel submitted the brief on behalf of the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the International City/County Management Association, and the International Municipal Lawyers Association. It urged the Court to affirm lower-court judgments that had refused to invalidate the statute’s general ban on robocalls to mobile phones.

On July 6, 2020, the Supreme Court left in place the ban on most robocalls, as the Greene Espel amicus brief had urged. Although the Court did not follow the same path urged in that amicus brief (of narrowing the settings in which “strict scrutiny” under the First Amendment is required), four justices agreed with the amicus brief’s approach to that issue, and a total of seven justices agreed, for various reasons, to leave the general prohibition in place.

 A copy of the amicus brief filed by Greene Espel can be found here.

Greene Espel attorneys John M. Baker and Katherine M. Swenson worked on the amicus brief. They represent individuals and entities in appellate courts and co-author a blog on the Eighth Circuit.

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