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‘Town Crier’ – Briefs From the Region (2) – 9/17/19

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Political robocalls fair game in Montana

According to Reuters, on Sept. 10 the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Montana can’t ban robocalls—automated phone calls with non-human interfaces. The restriction was aimed at combatting the nationwide spate of such phone-based spam; however, the federal appeals court found the restriction to be in violation of free-speech protections established by the First Amendment. For now, robocalls in Montana promoting various political campaigns and candidates will remain legal.

“Regulating robocalls based on the content of their messaging presents a more severe threat to First Amendment freedoms than regulating their time, place and manner,” wrote Judge Richard Paez, voicing the opinions of a panel that found such content-based regulations unconstitutional, despite originally agreeing with Montana Attorney General Tim Fox that robocalls potentially intrude on citizens’ privacy.

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