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Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that it's unconstitutional for the government to permit certain robocalls but ban others based on who's doing the calling and for what purpose.

Why it matters: The ruling leaves existing restrictions on robocalls in place and ends a recent exemption from them, rather than opening the floodgates to more.

Details: The court said Congress violated the Constitution in passing a 2015 amendment to the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the law that places limits on the use of robocalls. That 2015 change exempted callers that are collecting debts owed to the U.S. government, such as federal student and housing loans.

  • That was tantamount to a speech test, favoring "debt-collection speech over plaintiffs’ political speech," said Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the court.
  • The plaintiffs were representing political consultants who wanted the justices to make broader exceptions to TCPA's ban on robocalls so that political campaigns, pollsters and the like could more easily make such calls to Americans, including on their mobile phones.
  • But the court didn't do that — instead, it left TCPA intact, aside from striking down the 2015 exemption.

The bottom line: With the highest court establishing an all-or-nothing precedent in its treatment of robocalls as speech, lawmakers looking to make TCPA's robocall rules more effective will likely have to think bigger than placing narrow, content-based restrictions or exemptions.

Go deeper: Robocallers make First Amendment case at the Supreme Court

Go deeper

Oct 14, 2020 - Health

Republicans' Supreme Court message: Don't worry about the ACA

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images

Health care was by far the dominant issue in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing yesterday for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

The big picture: After promising for 10 years to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, and with a lawsuit pending at the Supreme Court that could do exactly that, Republicans are making a new argument: c’mon, nobody’s getting rid of the Affordable Care Act.

Updated 22 mins ago - World

Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Photo: Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

The latest: Kyaw Moe Tun told Reuters later on Saturday, "I decided to fight back as long as I can."

1 hour ago - Axios on HBO

Preview: "Axios on HBO" interviews White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond

On the next episode of "Axios on HBO," Axios co-founder Mike Allen interviews White House Senior Advisor Cedric Richmond.

  • Catch the full interview and much more on Sunday, February 28 at 6 pm. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.