March 26, 2019

U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on FCC’s TCPA Interpretation

TCPA Interpretation

In the case of PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic in 2018, it was debated whether the Hobbs Act requires that the district court uphold the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Specifically, the Supreme Court ruled on the FCC’s interpretation of “unsolicited advertisements” in the Junk Fax Prevention Act portion of the TCPA. Now, the Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether a district court is bound by a federal agency’s interpretation through the Hobbs Act, or if it has room to ignore this interpretation.

In the PDR Network case, the Fourth Circuit ruled that the district court was in error in not deferring to the FCC’s interpretation of “unsolicited advertisement” in the TCPA. In this case, the Supreme Court will examine the “scope of deference” implied by the Hobbs Act, and how it interplays with the Chevron doctrine.

The Doctrine mandates federal courts to follow agency interpretation of a statue, unless the court finds that Congress’ language is “clear and unambiguous” in said statute. Therefore, the question at hand is whether, in a case issued by one of the six federal agencies that follow guidelines of the Hobbs Act, the Act disallows the district court the ability to use the Chevron doctrine’s deference of agency interpretation.

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