Federal Judge Upholds Indiana DNC List in Nonprofit Ruling

A federal judge ruled that Indiana's do-not-call law does not violate the U.S. Constitution. At issue was whether nonprofits could have professional fundraisers make calls to numbers registered on the state's DNC file.

“After the state court rejected a challenge to the law in 2002, we were confident that the law would withstand federal court scrutiny as well,” Indiana attorney general Steve Carter said in a statement yesterday. “The privacy rights of individuals do outweigh the interests of a group that makes unsolicited sales calls and interrupts the peace and quiet of a person's home.”

The National Coalition of Prayer, Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police and the Kentucky-Indiana Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America filed the lawsuit, arguing that the law restricted their right to free speech. The Indiana Troopers Association was an original plaintiff but withdrew its support of the lawsuit in 2004.

Indiana's telephone privacy law bars professional fundraisers from calling phone numbers registered on the state DNC list. All of these groups have used professional solicitors to raise money. However, charities still may call if they use employees or volunteers.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker said the law “in targeting the unwelcome inundation of calls by professional telemarketers into private residences which the residents themselves have deemed intrusive, constitutes a valid content-neutral government regulation on speech.”

More than 1.7 million telephone numbers are registered on Indiana's list.

Tad Clarke is editor in chief of DM News. His editorial appears Mondays on www.dmnews.com and in our e-mail newsletter. You can subscribe to our e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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