Some Telephone Consumer Protection Act observers were disappointed that the US Supreme Court didn’t provide a more definitive answer as to how much authority the FCC has to interpret the TCPA. But Womble Bond Dickinson attorney David Carter tells Law360 that more debate will take place in the courts, which he believes will lead to greater clarity.
On June 20, the Supreme Court, in ruling on a TCPA case, did not address the central question of whether district courts are required under the Hobbs Act to defer to FCC decisions in TCPA matters. The Court determined it was unable to answer the Hobbs Act question because of two unanswered questions: 1. Is the FCC order simply an interpretive rule, or is it a legislative rule with the “force and effect of law”? and 2. Did the defendant in this case have the opportunity to challenge the FCC’s interpretation when it was adopted? The case, PDR Networks, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc., has been remanded to the Fourth Circuit to resolve these outstanding questions.
“This decision reveals that Chief Justice John Roberts may not be prepared to act quite as decisively as his peers, but that does not mean that we have seen the last chapter on this important topic,” Carter tells Law360. “Instead, the battle lines are being clearly drawn and we are likely to see increasing litigation regarding the balance of power between the courts and regulatory agencies.”
Carter also said that the Court’s decision opens the door for more parties to argue that FCC rulings in TCPA matters are not absolutely binding on district courts.
Companies rely on David Carter to guide them in Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliance matters and to defend them against allegations of TCPA violations. He has represented both closely held and publicly traded companies facing TCPA claims with potential liability in excess of $500 million. Carter runs the TCPA Defense Force whose mission is to reduce TCPA risk, allowing companies to communicate with consumers responsibly and without fear of legal consequences.