- Apr 25, 2003
The Judge in question must not get a lot of telemarketing calls. Bastard...
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Both the Senate and the House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to grant the Federal Trade Commission authority to create a national "do-not-call" list for telemarketers.
The legislation is now headed to President Bush, who is expected to sign it, his spokesman said.
But as Congress was giving the bill a thumbs-up, a federal judge in Denver was issuing another legal hurdle to the do-not-call registry. U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham issued an opinion blocking the list based on telemarketers' free speech rights.
Nottingham's decision could be more difficult for advocates of the list to sidestep because it cannot be addressed with Congressional action and must be resolved by the courts.
"The FTC has chosen to entangle itself too much in the consumer's decision by manipulating consumer choice and favoring speech by charitable (organizations) over commercial speech," Nottingham wrote.
The Congressional vote and the Denver court ruling came a day after another federal judge ruled the FTC needed a legislative mandate to create the wildly popular list.
"Fifty million Americans can't be wrong," Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Louisiana, declared Wednesday, referring to the number of people who have signed up to block the unwanted solicitations.
The House voted 412-8 for the mandate, and the Senate vote was 95-0.
Lawmakers expect the quick Congressional action means the new list will take effect October 1 as was expected before Wednesday's court ruling.
Wednesday, a U.S. District Court determined that the Federal Trade Commission overstepped its bounds by creating such a list.
"Admittedly, the elimination of telemarketing fraud and the prohibition against deceptive and abusive telemarketing acts or practices are significant public concern; however, 'an administrative agency's power to regulate in the public interest must always be grounded in a valid grant of authority from Congress.' Absent such a grant of authority in this case, the Court finds the do-not-call provision to be invalid," the court order stated.
In late June, the federal government launched a national "do-not-call" registry aimed at stopping most telemarketing phone calls to people who regard the sales pitches as invasive and want them blocked.
On the first day of registration, more than 730,000 people had registered to halt such calls to their phone numbers.
Five plaintiffs, four of which were telemarketing services, filed suit questioning the FTC's authority to create such a registry and impose rules for automated dialing. The fifth plaintiff, organized as a nonprofit trade association, represents about 5,000 U.S. companies.
Charities, surveys and calls on behalf of politicians are exempt from the registry.