ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES
Gregory F. Zoeller Paul L. Jefferson
Attorney General of Indiana John R. Maley
Sean P. Burke
Thomas M. Fisher Indianapolis, Indiana
Solicitor General of Indiana
James Bopp, Jr.
Ashley Tatman Harwel Anita Y. Woudenberg
Heather Hagan McVeigh Terre Haute, Indiana
Deputy Attorneys General
In the Dec 29 2011, 11:19 am
Indiana Supreme Court CLERK
of the supreme court,
court of appeals and
STATE OF INDIANA,
Appellant (Plaintiff below),
ECONOMIC FREEDOM FUND,
MERIDIAN PACIFIC, INC., AND
JOHN DOES 3?10,
Appellees (Defendants below).
Appeal from the Brown Circuit Court, No. 07C01-0609-MI-0425
The Honorable Kenneth G. Todd, Special Judge
On Petition to Transfer Pursuant to Appellate Rule 56(A)
December 29, 2011
In this case, the State seeks to enforce a particular provision of the Indiana Autodialer
Law against an entity that uses an automated dialing device to deliver prerecorded political mes- sages. The trial court, on cross-motions for preliminary injunction, decided that the entity had a
reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of its claim that the live-operator requirement of
the Autodialer Law violates the free speech clause of the Indiana Constitution.
We hold that the entity's First Amendment claim would likely fail. We also hold there is
no reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of the entity's claim that the Autodialer Law?s
live-operator requirement materially burdens its right to engage in political speech in violation of
the state constitution.
Facts and Procedural History
FreeEats.com, Inc. is a provider of prerecorded telephonic messages. It uses an artificial-
ly intelligent calling (AIC) system to call residents throughout the United States on behalf of its
clients, one of which is the Economic Freedom Fund (EFF). The AIC system can call 1.7 mil-
lion Indiana residents in seven hours.
The system's prerecorded messages are interactive: they conduct polls, identify political
supporters, deliver political-advocacy messages, and encourage voting. These prerecorded mes- sages delivered through automated dialing devices are sometimes referred to as ?robocalls.?
In early September 2006, FreeEats used its AIC system to disseminate a political message
in Indiana for the EFF. A legal battle began soon after, and over the years it has developed a
complex procedural history that includes separate state and federal lawsuits.
On September 18, 2006, the State filed a complaint in state court for an injunction, civil
penalties, attorneys? fees, and costs against the EFF and ten John Does. The complaint alleged
that the defendants had violated Indiana Code section 24-5-14-5(b) (2007), part of the Autodialer
Law,1 in two ways: they made, or caused to be made, robocalls (1) without first obtaining the
consent of the subscriber and (2) without using a live operator at the outset of the call to obtain
the subscriber's consent before the message was delivered. The same day, and in the same case,
the State filed a motion for preliminary injunction.
Ind. Code Â§Â§ 24-5-14-1 to -13 (2007).
[End Page 2]
Shortly after, on September 21, 2006, FreeEats filed a complaint in federal district court, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to prohibit the State and its then Attorney General Steve
Carter from enforcing the Autodialer Law. The complaint alleged that federal law preempts the
Autodialer Law; the Autodialer Law violates the Commerce Clause and the First Amendment;
and the Autodialer Law violates the free speech provision, Article 1, Section 9, of the Indiana
Constitution. The next day, the State amended its state-court complaint to substitute FreeEats for
John Doe 1, and it also filed a motion for preliminary injunction against FreeEats in state court.
In the ongoing federal case, FreeEats filed a motion for preliminary injunction, and the
State and Carter filed a motion to dismiss on abstention grounds. In October 2006, the federal
district court denied both motions. FreeEats.com, Inc. v. Indiana ex rel. Carter, No. 1:06-cv-
1403-LJM-WTL, 2006 WL 3025810 (S.D. Ind. Oct. 24, 2006). FreeEats appealed.
Meanwhile, the state-court case continued. A significant amount of procedural activity
took place from October 2006 until February 2008, including the State substituting Meridian Pa-
cific2 for John Doe 2.
In the midst of this activity, in September 2007, the Seventh Circuit ruled that the district
court should have dismissed the federal case under abstention principles because the State was
bringing enforcement proceedings against FreeEats in state court. FreeEats.com, Inc. v. Indiana,
502 F.3d 590, 600 (7th Cir. 2007).
On February 22, 2008, FreeEats filed a motion for preliminary injunction, asking the state
court to enjoin the State from enforcing the Autodialer Law against calls that disseminate politi-
cal messages. FreeEats advanced the same arguments as it did in federal district court: the
Autodialer Law is invalid under the First Amendment, the Commerce Clause, and Article 1, Sec-
tion 9 of the Indiana Constitution, and it is also preempted by federal law. In response, the State
filed its second motion for preliminary injunction against FreeEats. These motions remained
pending for the next two-plus years for various reasons. Finally, in June 2010, the state court
The law firm representing EFF has also represented Meridian Pacific in the proceedings below. EFF?s
brief on appeal states that ?Meridian Pacific, Inc. does not participate in this appeal. . . . Any interests it
might have in the outcome of this matter are adequately asserted in this brief by EFF.? We note that un-
der Indiana Appellate Rule 17(A), Meridian Pacific is also a party on appeal.
[End Page 3]
issued an order which granted in part and denied in part FreeEats's motion for preliminary in-
junction and granted in part and denied in part the State's motion for preliminary injunction.
Specifically, the trial court granted the State's motion as it sought to enforce the
Autodialer Law's requirement that FreeEats obtain consent and granted FreeEats's motion as it sought to enjoin the State from requiring FreeEats to hire live operators to obtain that consent.
Consequently, the trial court denied FreeEats's request to enjoin the State from enforcing the
consent requirement and denied the State's request to enjoin FreeEats from making robocalls
without complying with the live-operator requirement.
The trial court ruled that it is permissible under Indiana's free speech provision to require
FreeEats to obtain consent before conveying a prerecorded political message using an automated
dialing device. But it also ruled that FreeEats was likely to prevail on its claim that the live-
operator requirement imposed a material burden on political speech and thus violated Article 1,
Section 9 of the Indiana Constitution. In reaching this conclusion, the court found that FreeEats
can obtain consent through its automated system more quickly and more cheaply than through a
bank of live operators. As to FreeEats's other claims, the trial court stated that ?[t]he District
Court's analysis and conclusion that FreeEats is unlikely to prevail on the merits of its federal
claims is persuasive, but the Court need not address those claims, FreeEats having met its
threshold burden under the state constitution.?
The State appealed under Indiana Appellate Rule 14(A)(5), which permits parties to take
an interlocutory appeal as a matter of right of an order granting or denying a motion for prelimi-
nary injunction. FreeEats did not file an appeal. The State then requested, without opposition,
that this Court grant immediate transfer under Indiana Appellate Rule 56(A) and expedited con- sideration under Indiana Appellate Rule 21(B). This Court granted the State's request for imme-
diate transfer but denied its request for expedited consideration. The parties have agreed to a stay of the preliminary injunction pending appeal.
Standard of Review
?It is within the sound discretion of the trial court to grant or deny a preliminary injunc-
tion[.]? Amoco Prod. Co. v. Laird, 622 N.E.2d 912, 915 (Ind. 1993). Accordingly, this Court?s
[End Page 4]
review is limited to whether there was a clear abuse of discretion. Id. An abuse of discretion
occurs when the trial court misinterprets the law. Ind. High Sch. Athletic Ass?n, Inc. v. Martin,
731 N.E.2d 1, 5 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), trans. denied.
Indiana Autodialer Law
The Indiana Autodialer Law regulates the use of autodialers?devices that select and dial
telephone numbers and then disseminate prerecorded messages to those numbers. Ind. Code Â§
24-5-14-1. Among other things, the law prohibits a caller from using an autodialer without the
consent of the recipient of the call. Id. Â§ 24-5-14-5(b). The caller can either obtain consent prior
to the call or at the outset of the call by means of a live operator. Id. Certain types of calls are
exempt from the consent and live-operator requirements, such as autodialed calls informing em-
ployees of work schedules. Id. Â§ 24-5-14-5(a).
This Court has held that the Autodialer Law applies to noncommercial calls, including
calls made to communicate purely political messages. State v. American Family Voices, Inc.,
898 N.E.2d 293 (Ind. 2008). American Family Voices did not address any ?questions as to the
extent to which the Autodialer Law limits and may constitutionally limit the use of autodialers to
convey political messages? because those questions were not properly before the Court at the
time. Id. at 295. Today, however, we are squarely faced with a constitutional challenge to the
A. Threshold Issue and First Amendment Claim
At the outset, we must determine which claims are properly presented on appeal.
The State and FreeEats each filed a motion for preliminary injunction against the other,
and the trial court denied each motion in part. FreeEats did not appeal the trial court's refusal to
enjoin the State from enforcing the Autodialer Law's consent provision?whose language re-
Although it does not affect today's decision, we note that in September 2011, the U.S. District Court for
the Southern District of Indiana determined that Indiana's Autodialer Law is preempted by federal law.
Patriotic Veterans, Inc. v. Indiana ex rel. Zoeller, No. 1:10-cv-723-WTL-TAB, 2011 WL 4479071, at *4
(S.D. Ind. Sept. 27, 2011). We further note that the State and Attorney General Gregory F. Zoeller have
filed a notice of appeal in that case. Notice of Appeal, Patriotic Veterans, Inc. v. Indiana ex rel. Zoeller,
No. 1:10-cv-723-WTL-TAB, 2011 WL 4479071 (S.D. Ind. Oct. 3, 2011), ECF No. 47.
[End Page 5]
quires FreeEats to obtain consent from the subscriber before delivering prerecorded messages
using an automated dialing device. The State, on the other hand, did appeal the trial court's deci- sion to prohibit it from enforcing the Autodialer Law's live-operator provision?whose language
would require FreeEats to use live operators if FreeEats chose to obtain consent at the outset of
the robocalls. Thus, the sole Autodialer Law provision at issue is the live-operator requirement.
The trial court evaluated the Autodialer Law's live-operator requirement only under Arti-
cle 1, Section 9 of the Indiana Constitution. As stated above, the trial court never reached any of
FreeEats's federal constitutional arguments, but it briefly stated that it found the district court?s
reasoning that the live-operator requirement did not violate the First Amendment ?persuasive.?
FreeEats4 argues that if this Court does not affirm the trial court's order on Article 1, Section 9
grounds, then this Court should affirm the order on First Amendment grounds.5 Essentially,
FreeEats presents alternative constitutional arguments: if we determine the Autodialer Law?s
live-operator requirement does not violate the free speech provision of the state constitution, then
we should determine that it does violate the free speech provision of the Federal Constitution.
We do not believe this alternative federal free speech argument is properly before us.
We recognize the principle that ?where a trial court has made special findings pursuant to
a party's request under Trial Rule 52(A), the reviewing court may affirm the judgment on any
legal theory supported by the findings.? Mitchell v. Mitchell, 695 N.E.2d 920, 923 (Ind. 1998).
Notably, this case involves two facts that take it out of the purview of this principle: first, this
Court is not reviewing a judgment but rather an interlocutory order granting a preliminary in-
junction; and, second, the trial court's special findings were not ?pursuant to a party's request?
but were mandatory under Indiana Trial Rule 52(A)(1). We believe the first fact is especially significant.
A preliminary injunction is not a final judgment but rather ?an extraordinary equitable
remedy? that should be granted ?in rare instances.? Gary Bd. of Zoning Appeals v. Eldridge,
FreeEats and the EFF filed separate briefs in this appeal, but their interests are aligned, and their argu-
ments are substantially similar. For ease of discussion, we may now refer to the appellees, collectively, as
FreeEats requests this Court to remand the case back to the trial court to address its other federal consti-
tutional challenges in the event this Court rejects both its state and federal free speech arguments.
[End Page 6]
774 N.E.2d 579, 584 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), trans. denied. Furthermore, due to the provisional
nature of a preliminary injunction, the record on review is not fully developed. See Jos.
Guidone's Food Palace, Inc. v. Palace Pharmacy, Inc., 252 Ind. 400, 406, 248 N.E.2d 354, 357
(Ind. 1969). Thus, with those considerations in mind, a review of a grant or denial of a prelimi-
nary injunction should be confined to the law applied by the trial court, and this Court should
evaluate only the merits of arguments reached by the trial court. We find this consistent with the
limited and deferential appellate standard of review afforded to trial court rulings on motions for
Because we decline to extend the holding from Mitchell to orders granting or denying
preliminary injunctions, FreeEats's First Amendment claim is not properly before this Court at
this time, as the trial court did not address the merits of that claim. Notwithstanding that fact, we
will briefly state why, based on the record before us, FreeEats's First Amendment claim is likely
To determine the proper standard for evaluating the Autodialer Law under the free speech
provision of the First Amendment, we must determine (1) whether the Autodialer Law is content
neutral and (2) what type of forum is involved. See Van Bergen v. Minnesota, 59 F.3d 1541
1550?53 (8th Cir. 1995). A statute similar to the Autodialer Law was challenged on First
Amendment grounds in Van Bergen. We find the Eighth Circuit's First Amendment analysis in
that case on point.
The United States Supreme Court has provided that ?the government may impose reason-
able restrictions on the time, place, or manner of protected speech, provided the restrictions ?are
justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech.?? Ward v. Rock Against Rac-
ism, 491 U.S. 781
, 791 (1989) (quoting Clark v. Cmty. for Creative Non-Violence, 468 U.S. 288
293 (1984)). Importantly, ?[a] regulation that serves purposes unrelated to the content of expres- sion is deemed neutral, even if it has an incidental effect on some speakers or messages but not
others.? Id. We find the Autodialer Law content neutral because, with limited exceptions, it ap-
plies to all autodialed calls regardless of the call's content. Similar to the exceptions found in the
[End Page 7]
statute in Van Bergen, the exceptions within the Autodialer Law6 are based on relationships ?im-
plying the subscriber's consent to receive the caller's communications.? Van Bergen, 59 F.3d at
1550. These relationship-based exceptions do not affect the content neutrality of the Autodialer
Law. See id. at 1550?51.
Furthermore, the standards to evaluate limitations on speech ??differ depending on the
character of the property at issue.?? Frisby v. Schultz, 487 U.S. 474
, 479 (1988) (quoting Perry
Educ. Assn. v. Perry Local Educators? Assn., 460 U.S. 37
, 44 (1983)). We agree with the com-
prehensive Van Bergen analysis that ?the telephone system is neither a public property nonpublic
forum, nor a limited public forum, but a private channel of communication.? 59 F.3d at 1553
(finding support from numerous United States Supreme Court cases to reach that conclusion).
There is nothing unusual about the use of the telephone system in this case that would compel us
to decide this point differently than the Eighth Circuit decided it.
Accordingly, we conclude that the Autodialer Law is content neutral and that the re- striction on speech is made through private channels to reach private residences. In these cir-
cumstances, the appropriate test for determining whether the Autodialer Law passes muster un-
der the First Amendment is whether it is narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental
interest while leaving open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.
Ward, 491 U.S. at 791. We find the Autodialer Law meets this standard and thus does not vio-
late the First Amendment.
We first find that the Autodialer Law serves a significant governmental interest. As this
Court stated in American Family Voices, the purpose behind the Autodialer Law ?is to protect
the privacy, tranquility, and efficiency of telephone customers.? 898 N.E.2d at 295. And it is
well established that the protection of residential privacy is a significant governmental interest.
See, e.g., Frisby, 487 U.S. at 484. The United States Supreme Court has ?repeatedly held that
individuals are not required to welcome unwanted speech into their own homes and that the gov-
ernment may protect this freedom.? Id. at 485. 6
The exceptions within the Autodialer Law include messages ?(1) from school districts to students, par-
ents, or employees; (2) to subscribers with whom the caller has a current business or personal relation- ship; [and] (3) advising employees of work schedules.? I.C. Â§ 24-5-14-5(a).
[End Page 8]
Robocalls generate a harm that directly impacts the interest of residential privacy. As
aptly stated in Van Bergen, the disruption from robocalls ?is evident to anyone who has received such unsolicited calls when busy with other activities.? 59 F.3d at 1554. The State notes that
?FreeEats has admitted that it can dial more than 1.7 million homes in approximately seven
hours and that it might call each home as many as three times before leaving a pre-recorded mes- sage on an answering machine at targeted homes.?
Furthermore, the Autodialer Law, specifically in regards to its live-operator requirement,
is narrowly tailored to serve the interest of residential privacy. ?[W]hen a content-neutral regula-
tion does not entirely foreclose any means of communication, it may satisfy the tailoring re-
quirement even though it is not the least restrictive or least intrusive means of serving the statuto-
ry goal.? Hill v. Colorado, 530 U.S. 703
, 726 (2000). The Autodialer Law prohibits FreeEats
from disseminating robocalls when FreeEats has not obtained the subscriber's consent prior to
the call or when FreeEats does not use a live operator to obtain the consent at the outset of the
call. Thus, FreeEats is free to use its AIC technology once it obtains consent in one of the au-
thorized manners. Importantly, a live operator allows call recipients to decline to listen to the
robocalls and request that their residences not be contacted again; in effect, homeowners are em-
powered to manage the robocalls disseminated to their homes. Thus, while promoting residential
privacy, the Autodialer Law does not foreclose the use of AIC technology.
Finally, the statute leaves open ample alternative forms of communication. FreeEats and
its clients are free to deliver their messages through various methods, such as robocalls preceded
by a live operator at the outset, robocalls when prior consent has been given, direct mail, radio,
television, etc. Based on the foregoing considerations, this Court finds that FreeEats is likely to
fail on its claim that the Autodialer Law runs afoul of the First Amendment.
B. Procedural Posture and Article 1, Section 9 Claim
The State asks this Court to reverse the trial court's denial in part of its motion for pre-
liminary injunction and the trial court's granting in part of FreeEats's motion for preliminary in-
junction. Essentially, the State's desired outcome is to have this Court determine that the
Autodialer Law's live-operator requirement as applied to FreeEats's robocalls comports with Ar-
[End Page 9]
ticle 1, Section 9 of the Indiana Constitution and accordingly enjoin FreeEats from violating that
Generally, to obtain a preliminary injunction, a party must demonstrate the following four
elements by a preponderance of the evidence: (1) there exists a reasonable likelihood of success
at trial; (2) the remedies at law are inadequate, thus causing irreparable harm pending resolution
of the substantive action; (3) the threatened injury to the movant outweighs the potential harm to
the nonmovant from the granting of an injunction; and (4) the public interest would not be dis- served by granting the requested injunction. Apple Glen Crossing, LLC v. Trademark Retail,
Inc., 784 N.E.2d 484, 487 (Ind. 2003). Due to the procedural posture and nature of this case, two
different standards relating to preliminary injunctions apply. But under either of these standards,
this Court needs to examine only the trial court's evaluation of the first factor?reasonable like-
lihood of success at trial.
First, the State is appealing from the trial court's granting in part of FreeEats's motion for
preliminary injunction. If FreeEats failed to prove any of the four preliminary injunction re-
quirements, then the trial court's granting in part of its motion was an abuse of discretion. See
id. at 487?88. The State asserts that the trial court incorrectly determined that FreeEats had a
reasonable likelihood of success on its claim that the Autodialer Law as applied to the robocalls
is unconstitutional under Article 1, Section 9. The State does not ask this Court to review the
trial court's evaluation of any other preliminary injunction factor.
Second, the State is appealing from the trial court's denial in part of its motion for pre-
liminary injunction. The State asserts that the trial court should have granted its preliminary in-
junction motion to enjoin FreeEats from making the robocalls without complying with the live-
operator requirement of the Autodialer Law. This argument invokes the ?per se? injunction standard: if the action to be enjoined clearly violates a statute, the public interest is so great that
the injunction should issue regardless of whether a party establishes ?irreparable harm? or
?greater injury.? See Ind. Family & Soc. Servs. Admin. v. Walgreen Co., 769 N.E.2d 158, 161?
62 (Ind. 2002). In this case, neither party disputes that the robocalls at issue violate the live-
operator provision within the Autodialer Law: at issue is the legality of the provision as applied
to the robocalls. Thus we need examine only whether the State is correct in asserting that it had
[End Page 10]
a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of its claim?that the Autodialer Law's live-
operator requirement as applied to FreeEats's robocalls comports with Article 1, Section 9 of the
Indiana Constitution, and thus FreeEats must be enjoined from violating the law.
Under those standards, this Court must evaluate whether either party has a likelihood of
success on the merits of its respective claim. We frame the ultimate issue as follows: did the trial
court correctly determine that as applied to this case the Autodialer Law's live-operator require-
ment violates Article 1, Section 9 of the Indiana Constitution?
Indiana Code section 24-5-14-5(b) contains the live-operator provision of the Autodialer
Law at sub-subsection (2):
(b) A caller may not use or connect to a telephone line an automatic dialing-
announcing device unless:
(1) the subscriber has knowingly or voluntarily requested, consented to,
permitted, or authorized receipt of the message; or
(2) the message is immediately preceded by a live operator who obtains
the subscriber's consent before the message is delivered.
Because FreeEats did not have prior consent of the subscribers under sub-subsection (1),
sub-subsection (2) requires FreeEats to obtain consent at the outset of the calls through a live op-
The trial court found that this live-operator requirement imposed a material burden on
FreeEats's political speech in violation of Article 1, Section 9 of the Indiana Constitution. The
trial court acknowledged that the Autodialer Law in general ?does not prohibit FreeEats from
making political calls? but found that the live-operator requirement ?would increase FreeEats?s
costs more than tenfold and slow its process of disseminating political messages in Indiana for
clients.? The State does not dispute that the speech at issue is political in nature but argues that
the live-operator requirement does not impose a material burden on the speech.
Article 1, Section 9 of the Indiana Constitution prohibits the legislature from passing laws
?restraining the free interchange of thought and opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or
print, freely, on any subject whatever.? It further states that ?for the abuse of that right, every
person shall be responsible.? Ind. Const. art. 1, Â§ 9. This clause embodies a ?freedom-and-
[End Page 11]
responsibility standard,? which prohibits the legislature from impairing the flow of ideas but al-
lows it to sanction individuals who commit abuse. Price v. State, 622 N.E.2d 954, 958 (Ind.
1993). Claims that a statute violates the free speech clause of the Indiana Constitution are evalu-
ated under a different standard than claims based on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitu-
tion. See, e.g., id.
For Article 1, Section 9 claims, if a statute affects political speech, which is an estab-
lished core constitutional value, we engage in ?material burden? analysis. Id. at 960, 963. In the
present case, there is no dispute that the affected speech is political, as it clearly ?comment[s] on
government action.? Whittington v. State, 669 N.E.2d 1363, 1370 (Ind. 1996). This Court has
engaged in ?material burden? analysis on several occasions, although in factual scenarios quite
different than the present one.
In Price v. State, the seminal case addressing Article 1, Section 9 in the context of politi-
cal speech, this Court examined the constitutionality of Indiana's disorderly conduct statute. The
defendant was arrested and ultimately convicted of disorderly conduct after her noisy protest on
how police officers were treating her and other individuals. 622 N.E.2d at 957. The defendant
appealed her conviction on several theories?one was that the disorderly conduct statute violated
the free speech clause of the state constitution. Id. After determining that the content of the de-
fendant's speech was political, this Court shifted the focus to whether the statute, as applied, im-
posed a material burden on the speech. Id. at 963. We enunciated several important components
of ?material burden? analysis. First, ?we look only at the magnitude of the impairment.? Id. at
961 n.7. ?If the right, as impaired, would no longer serve the purpose for which it was designed,
it has been materially impaired.? Id. Second, ?treating as abuse political speech which does not
harm any particular individual (?public nuisance?) does amount to a material burden, but that sanctioning expression which inflicts upon determinable parties harm of a gravity analogous to
that required under tort law does not.? Id. at 964. With these considerations in mind, we noted
that given the ongoing commotion at the time the defendant began shouting her protest at the of-
ficers, the State could not establish a link between the defendant's conduct and any particularized
harm that was suffered. Id. Any harm suffered by individuals observing the scene was not more
than ?a fleeting annoyance,? and the defendant's actions were not analogous to conduct that
?would sustain tort liability against the speaker.? Id. In essence, arresting the defendant for dis-
[End Page 12]
orderly conduct based on her political speech, when her conduct could not be considered abuse
under the particular facts, was a material burden on the defendant's right to engage in political speech.
Several cases following Price elaborated on ?material burden? analysis. In Whittington, a
case also addressing the disorderly conduct statute, this Court stated that ?[o]ur opinion in Price suggests that state action does not impose a material burden on expression if either the ?magni-
tude of the impairment? is slight or the expression threatens to inflict ?particularized harm? anal-
ogous to tortious injury on readily identifiable private interests.? Whittington, 669 N.E.2d at
1370 (internal citations omitted).7 And in a case addressing a state statute that imposed certain
requirements before a woman could get an abortion, this Court held that ?a state regulation cre-
ates a material burden if it imposes a substantial obstacle on a core constitutional value serving
the purpose for which it was designed? but that there is no material burden with a ?less than a substantial obstacle? under most circumstances. Clinic for Women, Inc. v. Brizzi, 837 N.E.2d
973, 984 (Ind. 2005).8
Thus, determining whether a statute imposes a material burden on political speech may
involve two components: ?magnitude of the impairment? analysis and ?particularized harm?
analysis. Under ?magnitude of the impairment? analysis, we look at whether there has been a substantial obstacle on the right to engage in political speech. The important inquiry is whether
the right to engage in political speech, as affected, no longer serves the purpose for which it was
designed. If a substantial obstacle does not exist, there is no material burden on the right to en-
gage in political speech. But if a substantial obstacle does exist, we also engage in ?particular-
ized harm? analysis: we look at whether the speaker's actions are analogous to conduct that
would sustain tort liability against the speaker. If there is a ?particularized harm,? then we con-
clude that the state action does not impose a material burden on the right to engage in political
Whittington, like Price, involved a defendant's loud protest during a police investigation and an Article
1, Section 9 challenge to the disorderly conduct statute. Ultimately, unlike Price, the defendant's speech
in Whittington was not political, and thus material burden analysis was not appropriate in that case.
Whittington, 669 N.E.2d at 1370.
The majority in Clinic for Women left open the issue of whether the right to have an abortion was a core
constitutional value under Article 1, Section 1 of the Indiana Constitution. Instead, the majority deter-
mined that even if the right to have an abortion were a core constitutional value, the state statute at issue
did not impose a material burden on that right. Clinic for Women, 837 N.E.2d at 988.
[End Page 13]
speech. Conversely, a lack of ?particularized harm? means there is a material burden. Ultimate-
ly, a material burden on political speech exists only in the presence of a substantial obstacle on
the right and the absence of particularized harm caused by the speaker.
The State argues (1) that the live-operator requirement's impairment on FreeEats's speech is slight and (2) that FreeEats's robocalls are akin to tort-like conduct. FreeEats, on the
other hand, argues that because the live-operator requirement increases its costs and reduces the
number of calls it can make within a given period of time, there is a significant impairment on its
political expression. Furthermore, FreeEats contends that its robocalls are not excessive enough
to be analogous to an actionable tort based on invasion of privacy or the like.
We find that this issue can be resolved on ?magnitude of the impairment? grounds and
thus find it unnecessary to address the State's argument that the robocalls inflict ?particularized
harm analogous to tortious injury.? For the reasons explained below, we hold that the live-
operator requirement of the Autodialer Law does not impose a substantial obstacle on FreeEats?s
right to engage in political speech.
We agree with the State that FreeEats's right to engage in political speech continues to serve its purpose notwithstanding the live-operator requirement of the Autodialer law. The State
elaborates on this argument: (1) the Autodialer Law does not prohibit the dissemination of politi-
cal speech; (2) FreeEats and its clients may continue to use the AIC system as long as they obtain
the residents? consent in either of the prescribed manners; and (3) despite the Autodialer law,
FreeEats and its clients are free to broadcast their messages and engage in political discourse in
countless other ways.
In Price, the disorderly conduct statute's operation blocked the defendant's ability to en-
gage in political expression. We recognize that an arrest and criminal conviction for nonabusive
political speech clearly falls on the substantial-obstacle end of the spectrum. Not every restraint
will be as easily definable, and this Court recognizes that lesser restraints may also present sub- stantial obstacles to engage in political speech. But the State has explained why the magnitude
of the impairment in this case does not rise to an Article 1, Section 9 violation?the live-operator
requirement of the Autodialer Law does not, for various reasons, present a substantial obstacle to
the purpose underlying FreeEats's right to engage in political expression. Furthermore,
[End Page 14]
FreeEats's only substantial-obstacle argument is an economic one?that it is more expensive to
make political calls if it complies with the live-operator requirement of the Autodialer Law. This
purely economic burden is not the type of substantial obstacle that Price contemplated.
The Autodialer Law prevents FreeEats from sending prerecorded political messages
without obtaining the telephone subscriber's consent. FreeEats can obtain this consent prior to
the call or at the outset of the call by using a live operator. FreeEats is correct in noting that its
costs will increase if it complies with the live-operator requirement, but FreeEats fails to intro-
duce any convincing argument that the result of the requirement is that its right to engage in po-
litical expression no longer serves the purpose for which it was designed. Any content-neutral statute that incidentally affects political expression could conceivably increase the economic
costs of the speaker. A conclusion that a statute violates the state constitution when it increases
the economic costs to engage in political expression, without any showing that the right to politi-
cal expression no longer serves its purpose, would be unsound. FreeEats and its clients are still
free to engage in political expression and are free to use the AIC system to do so. Although the
Autodialer Law's live-operator provision is a less-than-ideal requirement for FreeEats, it is not a
material burden on its right to engage in political expression.
We find that the trial court incorrectly found that FreeEats had a reasonable likelihood of success on its claim that the live-operator provision of the Autodialer Law violates Article 1,
Section 9 of the Indiana Constitution. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's granting in part
of the preliminary injunction in favor of FreeEats and reverse the trial court's denial in part of
the preliminary injunction against the State. We remand to the trial court for further proceed-
Shepard, C.J., and Dickson and Rucker, JJ., concur.
Sullivan, J., dissents with separate opinion.
[End Page 15]
Sullivan, Justice, dissenting.
Like Special Judge Kenneth G. Todd, I believe that application of the live-operator re-
quirement in the present case imposes a material burden on political speech in violation of Art. I,
Â§ 9, of the Indiana Constitution.1 And I further believe that application of this requirement vio-
lates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. I therefore respectfully dissent. I
In Price v. State, we held that Art. I, Â§ 9, of the Indiana Constitution enshrines political speech as a core value ? one of a cluster of essential values within our Bill of Rights that the
Legislature may not ?materially burden.? 622 N.E.2d 954, 963 (Ind. 1993). We acknowledged
that the same provision contains a responsibility standard, permitting the Legislature to sanction
individuals who ?abuse? their right to engage in political speech. Id. at 958. But we concluded
in that case that because Colleen Price's speech ? objecting to police conduct ? was in fact polit-
ical and because her conduct could not be considered an abuse under the circumstances, her ar-
rest and criminal conviction for disorderly conduct unconstitutionally burdened her right to en-
gage in political speech. Id. at 961, 964-65.
As the Court acknowledges, there is no dispute that the speech in this case is political. In
fact, ever since the congressional campaign in 2006, the intention of the Attorney General has
been clear ? to enforce the Autodialer Law's live-operator requirement against FreeEats's auto-
mated political calls and the political speakers using such calls. See Appellee's App. 303-04
(letters from the Attorney General's office sent in August and September, 2006, to Indiana's po-
litical parties informing them of the Autodialer Law's requirements). The question then is
whether the live-operator requirement imposes a material burden on FreeEats's and its clients?
rights under the Indiana Constitution to engage in political speech. Unlike federal constitutional
The Court points out that the Autodialer Law has been enjoined by the Federal District Court on
preemption grounds. Patriotic Veterans, Inc. v. State ex rel. Zoeller,
F. Supp. 2d
, No. 1:10-cv-
723-WTL-TAB, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110787, 2011 WL 4479071 (S.D. Ind. Sept. 27, 2011). While
that issue is not before us in this appeal, FreeEats did plead it in this case and so it will be before Judge
Todd on remand.
analysis, our ??[m]aterial burden? analysis involves no . . . weighing nor is it influenced by the social utility of the state action at issue.? Price, 622 N.E.2d at 961 n.7. Instead, Price provides
two considerations: ?state action does not impose a material burden on expression if either the
?magnitude of the impairment? is slight or the expression threatens to inflict ?particularized
harm? analogous to tortious injury on readily identifiable private interests.? Whittington v. State,
669 N.E.2d 1363, 1370 (Ind. 1996) (internal citations omitted).
With regard to the ?magnitude of the impairment,? the Court correctly recognizes that the
right need not be totally blocked by the restriction; instead, ??a state regulation creates a material
burden if it imposes a substantial obstacle on a core constitutional value serving the purpose for
which it was designed.?? Slip op. at 13 (emphasis added) (citation omitted). But according to
the Court, FreeEats has ?fail[ed] to introduce any convincing argument that the result of the
[live-operator] requirement is that its right to engage in political expression no longer serves the
purpose for which it was designed.? Id. at 15. The Court says that this is because FreeEats's on-
ly substantial-obstacle argument is an economic one and ?[t]his purely economic burden is not
the type of substantial-obstacle that Price contemplated.? Id. at 15.
I disagree for several reasons.
First, although the Court accurately describes the procedural posture of this case, it is in-
correct in concluding that the State has met the requisite burden of proof. In Whittington, we
explained that the party challenging a state restriction on his or her right to speak2 bears the bur-
den of proving that the State could not have reasonably concluded that the restricted expression
was an abuse, but that the party may meet this burden by showing that the expressive activity
was political. 669 N.E.2d at 1369. After making this showing, the burden then shifts to the State
to ?demonstrate that its action has not materially burdened the claimant's opportunity to engage
in political expression.? Id. (citing Price, 622 N.E.2d at 963-64). But Price and Whittington
were criminal cases. The defendants in each brought Art. I, Â§ 9, challenges to their convictions
under the disorderly conduct statute based on their loud protests during police investigations. As
The party also bears the initial burden of proving that the State has in fact restricted his or her right to
engage in expressive activity. Whittington, 669 N.E.2d at 1367.[End Page 2]
such, there were genuine issues in those cases as to whether the speech at issue was political at
all. In this case, there is ? to repeat ? no dispute that FreeEats has met its burden of showing that
its restricted expression is political; under Price and Whittington, the burden then falls to the
State to show that its action is not a material burden. By concluding that FreeEats has ?fail[ed]
to introduce any convincing argument that the result of the [live-operator] requirement is that its
right to engage in political speech no longer serves the purpose for which it was designed,? the
Court incorrectly places the burden on FreeEats to prove that the live-operator requirement is not
a material burden.
Next, the Court's limited view of Price diminishes the protections of Art. I, Â§ 9, and does so with great consequences. As just noted in a different context, both Price and Whittington
were challenges to convictions for loudly protesting police conduct. Price therefore did not con-
template or speak to ?economic burdens? at all. But in this civil case, the Attorney General seeks to enforce the Autodialer Law's live-operator requirement against a business. In civil cas-
es, economic burdens diminish the protections of Art. I, Â§ 9, in the same way that penal sanctions
do in criminal cases. Moreover, the Court fails to appreciate the full extent of the ?economic
burden? imposed in this case. Unlike the punishment imposed on speech after it was spoken in
Price and Whittington, the live-operator requirement prevents political speech from occurring at
all. This is because, as discussed more fully below, it eliminates an entire industry offering a specific service to political speakers. In this regard, the live-operator requirement arguably im-
poses an even greater burden on speech than criminal punishment. Cf. Mishler v. MAC Sys.,
Inc., 771 N.E.2d 92, 95 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002) (noting ?that prior restraints on speech and publica-
tion are the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on free speech rights? (citing Ne-
braska Press Ass?n v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539
The consequences of the Court's limited view are even more troubling given what is at stake in this case ? a business that provides a service to an unlimited number of groups that wish
The term ?prior restraint? describes ??administrative and judicial orders forbidding certain communica-
tions when issued in advance of the time that such communications are to occur.?? Mishler, 771 N.E.2d
at 95 (quoting Alexander v. United States, 509 U.S. 544
, 550 (1993)). Classic examples include restrain-
ing orders and injunctions that forbid future speech activities. Id. Regardless of whether the live-operator
requirement meets the textbook definition of ?prior restraint,? its effect in this case is comparable in that it
prevents speech from occurring altogether.[End Page 3]
to engage in efficient, effective political speech and that simultaneously allows a vast number of
people to receive that political speech. FreeEats can contact 1.7 million Indiana voters in 7
hours, thereby, as discussed in Part II-B-3, infra, allowing political speakers to deliver their mes- sages during the timeframes in which speech is most effective. 4 It enables candidates to respond
to attack ads right before an election when no TV or radio airtime is available, providing candi-
dates what might well be otherwise unavailable opportunities to defend themselves. It educates
voters on the issues. It motivates them to turn out. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most important
tools in today's political dialogue.
Article I, Â§ 9, prohibits burdens that are material enough to prevent political speech from
being delivered ? economic or not. Cf. Whittington, 669 N.E.2d at 1368 (noting that the focus of
the free speech clause is on the ?restrictive impact of state action? and that the clause is triggered
when the ?state imposes a direct and significant burden on a person's opportunity to speak his or
her mind?). The live-operator requirement imposes substantial costs on speakers. The record shows that it costs $0.15 per call without a live operator and $2.25 per call with a live operator ?
a 1,500% increase in cost. This means that although the market would allow the speaker to dis- seminate its message to roughly 6,667 potential listeners for $1,000, the State of Indiana requires
that the speaker instead spend $15,000 to disseminate the same message to the same listeners ?
or, in this case, it would have cost FreeEats $900,000 to make its 400,000 calls with a live opera-
tor and only $60,000 without a live operator. This burden is so substantial that it eliminates an
entire mode of widely used and effective communication from political discourse; it operates to shut down the entire automated political-call industry.
Automated political speech ? as an outgrowth of door-to-door political campaigning, po-
litical telephone banks, and bulk mailings ? is protected under Art. I, Â§ 9. See id. (noting that
?because the right to speak clause also provides that expressive activity may be ?freely? per-
formed, the clause reaches every conceivable mode of expression? and that ?speaking, writing,
or printing, freely, on any subject whatever, includes, at least, the projection of any words in any
Live operators, as argued by FreeEats, could not replicate the speed of FreeEats's technology. ?If
FreeEats were able to hire 200 operators and those operators worked 12-hour days placing an industry standard 20 calls per hour, it would take FreeEats approximately 425 hours, or 35 full-time days, to com-
plete the same task as its [artificial intelligence] system.? Appellee FreeEats's Br. 13.[End Page 4]
manner? (emphasis added)). By way of the live-operator requirement and the resulting elimina-
tion of this method of communication, the State is ?dictat[ing] the means by which political opin-
ion may be voiced.? Price, 622 N.E.2d at 963. Specifically, it is dictating that political opinion
may not be voiced through automated political calls. The ?magnitude of the impairment? in this
case could not be greater.
Finding that the ?magnitude of the impairment? is slight, the Court does not address
whether the speech at issue ?threatens to inflict ?particularized harm? analogous to tortious injury
on readily identifiable private interests.? Whittington, 669 N.E.2d at 1370 (citation omitted). In
any event, these telephone calls do not even come close to violating that standard. First, assum-
ing that the simple act of making a telephone call could even rise to the level of tortious conduct,
the calls in this case do not ? they are made at reasonable times, are only made up to three times
per residence (and only then if the phone was not answered on the first two tries), and are dis-
connected fairly quickly upon termination of the call. Those who do not want to receive these
calls suffer no harm that rises ?above the level of a fleeting annoyance.? Price, 622 N.E.2d at
964. And, because no one person suffers harm that is different than anyone else, these calls do
not inflict ?particularized? harm as contemplated by Price. Cf. id. (concluding that the state im-
poses a material burden when it treats as an abuse political speech which does not harm any par-
ticular individual (?public nuisance?)). In the absence of particularized harm, the live-operator
requirement imposes a material burden on FreeEats's right to engage in political speech in viola-
tion of Art. I, Â§ 9, of the Indiana Constitution. II
The First Amendment prohibits the State from ?abridging the freedom of speech.? U.S.
Const. amend. I; McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm?n, 514 U.S. 334
, 336 n.1 (1995). Of course,
the right to freedom of speech is not absolute, see, e.g., Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47
52 (1919) (Holmes, J.), but governmental regulation of expression is permitted only in limited
circumstances and only if the regulation satisfies the applicable standard of judicial scrutiny. Cf.
United States v. Kokinda, 497 U.S. 720
, 725 (1990) (plurality opinion) (?Under our First
[End Page 5]
Amendment jurisprudence, we must determine the level of scrutiny that applies to the regulation
of protected speech at issue.?). A
The parties agree that this case involves private individuals or entities attempting to en-
gage in core political speech on private property. But they dispute whether the statute is content
based or content neutral.
Content-based laws are those that regulate speech based on its subject matter, its view-
point, or the speaker's identity. E.g., United States v. Playboy Entm?t Grp., Inc., 529 U.S. 803
811-12 (2000). Content-based laws are thus particularly troubling because, at bottom, ?the First
Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message,
its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.? Police Dep?t of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92
(1972) (citations omitted); see also Turner Broad. Sys., Inc. v. FCC (Turner I), 512 U.S. 622
(1994). As a consequence, content-based regulations of protected speech are subject to the most
exacting judicial scrutiny. E.g., Brown v. Entm?t Merchs. Ass?n, 564 U.S.
, 131 S. Ct. 2729,
2738 (2011); Turner I, 512 U.S. at 642.
Content-neutral laws, on the other hand, are those that regulate speech irrespective of subject matter, viewpoint, or speaker identity, and they usually apply to all speech. See, e.g.,
Members of the Los Angeles City Council v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789
, 804 (1984);
Heffron v. Int?l Soc?y for Krishna Consciousness, Inc., 452 U.S. 640
, 649 (1981). Such laws are
deemed to be less problematic under the First Amendment because ?they pose a less substantial
risk of excising certain ideas or viewpoints from the public dialogue.? Turner I, 512 U.S. at 642; see also Geoffrey R. Stone, Content-Neutral Restrictions, 54 U. Chi. L. Rev. 46, 54-57, 72-77
(1987). At the same time, content-neutral speech regulations do burden important First Amend-
ment interests because, by restricting speech, they limit the marketplace of ideas and quell public
debate. See, e.g., City of Ladue v. Gilleo, 512 U.S. 43
, 55 (1994). To balance these competing
interests, the United States Supreme Court has held that content-neutral laws are subject to an
intermediate level of scrutiny, which affords the government more leeway in meeting its legiti-
[End Page 6]
mate regulatory objectives. See Turner I, 512 U.S. at 662; see also Turner Broad. Sys., Inc. v.
FCC (Turner II), 520 U.S. 180
, 189 (1997); Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569
, 574 (1941).
Unsurprisingly, FreeEats argues that the Autodialer Law is content based and that it is subject to heightened judicial scrutiny. Equally unsurprisingly, the State argues that the law is
content neutral and that intermediate scrutiny applies. I find it is unnecessary to undertake this
analysis here because I believe that the live-operator requirement is sufficiently burdensome that
it fails intermediate scrutiny. B
Intermediate scrutiny is, in the last analysis, a balancing test used to determine whether
the State has appropriately balanced its other significant interests against the pertinent First
Amendment interests, see Hill v. Colorado, 530 U.S. 703
, 714-18 (2000), but it requires more
than a simple judicial weighing of interests. Rather, a content-neutral law will be upheld under
intermediate scrutiny only if it is narrowly tailored to serve a substantial governmental interest
and leaves open adequate alternative channels of communication. See id. at 725-30; Turner II,
520 U.S. at 189; Turner I, 512 U.S. at 662; Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781
(1989); Frisby v. Schultz, 487 U.S. 474
, 481-82 (1988); City of Renton v. Playtime Theatres,
Inc., 475 U.S. 41
, 47 (1986); Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, 468 U.S. 288
293-94 (1984); Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. at 804-05; Heffron, 452 U.S. at 647-48; Virginia
State Bd. of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748
, 771 (1976);
Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104
, 115-17 (1972); United States v. O?Brien, 391 U.S.
, 377 (1968). B-1
A content-neutral regulation of speech must serve a substantial governmental interest un-
related to the suppression of expression. E.g., Community for Creative Non-Violence, 468 U.S.
at 293-98; O?Brien, 391 U.S. at 377, 380-81. We acknowledged in State v. American Family
Voices, Inc., that the general purpose of the Autodialer Law ?is to protect the privacy, tranquili-
[End Page 7]
ty, and efficiency of telephone customers.? 898 N.E.2d 293, 295 (Ind. 2008) (citation omitted).
And the Supreme Court's cases emphasize that protecting residential privacy is an important in-
terest of the highest magnitude. See Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc?y of N.Y., Inc. v. Vill. of
Stratton, 536 U.S. 150
, 164-65 (2002); Hill, 530 U.S. at 715-18; Ward, 491 U.S. at 796; Frisby,
487 U.S. at 484-85; Rowan v. U.S. Post Office Dep?t, 397 U.S. 728
, 736-38 (1970); Kovacs v.
Cooper, 336 U.S. 77
, 86-87 (1949) (plurality opinion); Martin v. City of Struthers, 319 U.S. 141
147-48 (1943). But this only begins the analysis, for ?[m]ere legislative preferences or beliefs
respecting matters of public convenience may well support regulation directed at other personal
activities, but be insufficient to justify such as diminishes the exercise of rights so vital to the
maintenance of democratic institutions.? Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147
, 161 (1939). B-2
Under intermediate scrutiny, the speech regulation must be narrowly tailored to serve the
government's substantial interest in protecting residential privacy. E.g., Hill, 530 U.S. at 726;
Turner I, 512 U.S. at 662; Ward, 491 U.S. at 797-98; Bd. of Trs. of the State Univ. of N.Y. v.
Fox, 492 U.S. 469
, 477-80 (1989). A law is narrowly tailored if it ?promotes a substantial gov-
ernmental interest that would be achieved less effectively absent the regulation, and does not
burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further that interest.? Turner II, 520 U.S.
at 213-14 (emphasis added) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). There are thus two
parts to this test: First, the regulation must be effective in achieving the State's substantial regu-
latory objective. Second, the regulation must not burden substantially more speech than is nec-
essary to achieve its regulatory objective. Accordingly, the Autodialer Law will satisfy this fac-
tor if it ?targets and eliminates no more than the exact source of the ?evil? it seeks to remedy,?
Frisby, 487 U.S. at 485, and it will not be invalidated ?simply because there is some imaginable
alternative that might be less burdensome on speech,? United States v. Albertini, 472 U.S. 675
689 (1985) (citation omitted). Metaphorically speaking, this means that although the State is not
required to use a scalpel, it may not use a wrecking ball. And to be sure, a regulation that effec-
tively prohibits speech (by driving up the cost 1,500%) is such a wrecking ball.
[End Page 8]
I turn first to five decisions of the United States Supreme Court addressing the constitu-
tionality of content-neutral regulations of speech justified by a governmental interest in protect-
ing privacy. These cases together stand for the proposition that regulations to protect privacy
must be tailored so as to allow unwilling listeners to avoid the speech while allowing willing lis-
teners to receive the speech. See Watchtower, 536 U.S. 150
; Hill, 530 U.S. 703
; Frisby, 487
; Martin, 319 U.S. 141
; cf. Rowan, 397 U.S. 728
. Regulations intended to protect un-
willing listeners are permitted to burden the rights of speakers and willing listeners only where
an insurmountable ?captive audience? problem exists. See Ward, 491 U.S. 781
; Kovacs, 336
; cf. Bolger v. Youngs Drug Prods. Corp., 463 U.S. 60
, 72 (1983) (?The First Amend-
ment ?does not permit the government to prohibit speech as intrusive unless the ?captive? audi-
ence cannot avoid objectionable speech.?? (citation omitted)).
1. The ordinance in Martin v. City of Struthers imposed an absolute ban on all door-to-
door canvassing and distribution of literature. 319 U.S. at 142. The Struthers ordinance at-
tempted ?to protect the interests of all of its citizens, whether particular citizens want[ed] that
protection or not,? id. at 143, and thereby substituted ?the judgment of the community for the
judgment of the individual householder,? id. at 144. The result was that a speaker could be sub-
ject ?to criminal punishment for annoying the person on whom he call[ed], even though the re-
cipient of the literature distributed [was] in fact glad to receive it.? Id. The Court held that this
went too far by prohibiting too much speech:
Freedom to distribute information to every citizen wherever he desires to
receive it is so clearly vital to the preservation of a free society that, putting aside
reasonable police and health regulations of time and manner of distribution, it
must be fully preserved. The dangers of distribution can so easily be controlled
by traditional legal methods, leaving to each householder the full right to decide
whether he will receive strangers as visitors, that stringent prohibition can serve
no purpose but that forbidden by the Constitution, the naked restriction of the dis-
semination of ideas.
Traditionally the American law punishes persons who enter onto the prop-
erty of another after having been warned by the owner to keep off. . . . We know
of no state which, as does the Struthers ordinance in effect, makes a person a
[End Page 9]
criminal trespasser if he enters the property of another for an innocent purpose
without an explicit command from the owners to stay away. The National Insti-
tute of Municipal Law Officers has proposed a form of regulation to its member
cities which would make it an offense for any person to ring the bell of a house-
holder who has appropriately indicated that he is unwilling to be disturbed. This
or any similar regulation leaves the decision as to whether distributers of literature
may lawfully call at a home where it belongs ? with the homeowner himself. A
city can punish those who call at a home in defiance of the previously expressed
will of the occupant . . . . In any case, the problem must be worked out by each
community for itself with due respect for the constitutional rights of those desir-
ing to distribute literature and those desiring to receive it, as well as those who
choose to exclude such distributors from the home.
Id. at 146-49 (emphasis added) (footnotes omitted).
2. The ordinance in Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of
Stratton, did not impose a flat ban on door-to-door canvassing, but it did prohibit door-to-door
canvassing without first obtaining a permit from the mayor's office. 536 U.S. at 154. The per-
mit was issued without charge and as a matter of course ? it was not a discretionary licensing scheme. Id. at 154-55; cf. Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement, 505 U.S. 123
(1992); Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536
, 554-58 (1965); Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296
305 (1940); Schneider, 308 U.S. at 163-64; Lovell v. City of Griffin, 303 U.S. 444
(1938). The Court declined to determine whether the ordinance was content based or content
neutral, instead reasoning that ?the breadth of speech affected by the ordinance and the nature of
the regulation? rendered it invalid under any level of First Amendment scrutiny. Watchtower,
536 U.S. at 164. The Village argued that the ordinance served three interests, including the pro-
tection of residential privacy. Id. at 164-65. Although this was an important interest, the Court
concluded that the ordinance was not narrowly tailored because another section of the ordinance
that allowed residents to post ?No Solicitation? signs on their property and ?the resident's un-
questioned right to refuse to engage in conversation with unwelcome visitors? together provided
ample protection for unwilling listeners. Id. at 168 (citation omitted); see also Watchtower Bible
& Tract Soc?y of N.Y., Inc. v. Vill. of Stratton, 240 F.3d 553
, 571 (6th Cir. 2001) (Gilman, J.,
concurring in part and dissenting in part) (finding under intermediate scrutiny that the ordinance
was not narrowly tailored to serve the interest in protecting privacy because there were other
ample protections of privacy), rev?d, 536 U.S. 150
[End Page 10]
3. In Frisby v. Schultz, the Court held that an ordinance prohibiting picketing occurring
in public streets directed at a single residence or dwelling was not facially invalid under the First
Amendment. 487 U.S. at 488. The Court accepted the view of the lower courts that the ordi-
nance was content neutral and thus subjected it to intermediate scrutiny. Id. at 482. The ordi-
nance served a substantial governmental interest in protecting the residential privacy of presump-
tively unwilling listeners. Id. at 484-85. This ban on picketing directed toward a single resi-
dence of a presumptively unwilling listener was narrowly tailored because the ?evil? of such
picketing was ?the very presence of an unwelcome visitor at the home,? id. at 487 (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted), and thus was ?created by the medium of expression itself,? id.
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Moreover, because the scope of the ban was so
narrow, ample alternative channels of communication were available. Id. at 483-84.
4. In Hill v. Colorado, the Court upheld as a reasonable time, place, or manner regulation
a Colorado statute that made it unlawful for a person within 100 feet of a health care facility?s
entrance to ?knowingly approach? within eight feet of another person, without that person?s
consent, in order to pass that person a leaflet or handbill, to display to that person a sign, or to
engage in oral protest, education, or counseling with that person. 530 U.S. at 707, 725. The
Court held that the statute was content neutral, id. at 719-25, and that it served the substantial
governmental interest of protecting unwilling listeners? privacy as they sought medical treatment,
id. at 715-18. The statute was narrowly tailored, in large part, because ?only attempts to address
unwilling listeners [were] affected.? Id. at 727. Finally, ?the 8-foot restriction on an unwanted
physical approach [left] ample room to communicate a message through speech? because
?[s]igns, pictures, and voice itself [could] cross an 8-foot gap with ease.? Id. at 729. And the
eight-foot restriction applied only within 100 feet of a health care facility, where the restriction
was most needed, and thereby interfered far less with speakers? ability to communicate than did
the total ban in Frisby or other restrictions previously sustained by the Court. Id. at 730.
5. The federal statute at issue in Rowan v. United States Post Office Department allowed
postal customers essentially to request that they be placed on a mailer's do-not-mail list ? in oth-
er words, the statute ?was intended to allow the addressee complete and unfettered discretion in
[End Page 11]
electing whether or not he desired to receive further material from a particular sender.? 397 U.S.
at 734. The Court held that the statute did not violate the First Amendment because, even though
the First Amendment protects the speaker's right to communicate, that right ?must stop at the
mailbox of an unreceptive addressee.? Id. at 737. The Court relied heavily on Martin and noted
that ?the mailer's right to communicate [was] circumscribed only by an affirmative act of the
addressee giving notice that he wishe[d] no further mailings from that mailer.? Id. Although the statute had ?the effect of impeding the flow of ideas, information, and arguments that, ideally,
[the addressee] should receive and consider,? id. at 736, the Court reasoned that ?no one has a
right to press even ?good? ideas on an unwilling recipient,? id. at 738. B-2-b
The Indiana Autodialer Law is not narrowly tailored because it burdens substantially
more speech than is necessary to serve the State's interest in protecting residential privacy. The statute is clearly more akin to the ordinances struck down in Watchtower and Martin; it lacks the
narrow tailoring of the laws upheld in Hill, Frisby, and Rowan.
The ordinance in Martin was invalid because it took the majority's view that door-to-door
canvassers were undesirable and imposed that view upon the entire community, thereby depriv-
ing the individual homeowner of his or her right to determine which messages to consider. 319
U.S. at 147-48. Moreover, in both Martin and Watchtower, there existed alternative means of
protecting residential privacy, such as ?no trespassing? signs and the unwilling listener's right to
refuse to engage in discussion with unwelcome speakers. Watchtower, 536 U.S. at 168; Martin,
319 U.S. at 147-48; see also Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc., 564 U.S.
, 131 S. Ct. 2653, 2670
(2011) (?Personal privacy even in one's own home receives ?ample protection? from the ?resi-
dent's unquestioned right to refuse to engage in conversation with unwelcome visitors.?? (quot-
ing Watchtower, 536 U.S. at 168)).
The challenged laws in Hill, Frisby, and Rowan, on the other hand, were upheld because
they protected only unwilling listeners while leaving willing listeners free to receive the speak-
er's message. Speakers in Hill could obtain a potential listener's consent by asking for it when
[End Page 12]
he or she walked by ? it was thus rather simple for a potential listener to opt-out of the statute?s
protections. 530 U.S. at 726-29; see also id. at 715-16 (?It is also important when conducting
this interest analysis to recognize the significant difference between state restrictions on a speak-
er's right to address a willing audience and those that protect listeners from unwanted communi-
cation. This statute deals only with the latter.?); id. at 727 (reiterating this point). Conversely,
the do-not-mail list upheld in Rowan presumed that potential listeners wanted to receive the speaker's message and those who were unwilling to do so could simply opt-in to the law's pro-
tections by requesting the Postmaster General to place their names on a mailer's do-not-mail list.
397 U.S. at 736-38 (discussing the right of the individual householder to exercise exclusive con-
trol over unwanted mail). And in Frisby, the Court analyzed the ordinance on the presumption
that it would prohibit targeted picketing at an unwilling listener's residence. 487 U.S. at 485
(considering whether the ordinance was ?narrowly tailored to protect only unwilling recipients of
the communications? (emphasis added)). Indeed, the Court suggested that the ordinance would
not apply if such picketing were directed toward the residence of a willing listener. Id. at 488.
The State argues that the consent requirement of Indiana Code section 24-5-14-5(b) is simply an opt-out law of the type approved of in Hill. Hill might apply if section 5 required con- sent to receive a prerecorded message but imposed no limitation on how such consent could be
obtained. But that is not the case. Section 5 imposes a general consent requirement (with a few
exemptions) and then proceeds to limit the manner in which consent may be obtained. Consent
to hear a prerecorded message can be obtained either through prior interaction with the recipient
or through the use of a live operator. As discussed in Part I, supra, the record shows that the
live-operator requirement increases the speaker's costs by 1,500%. 5 By doing so, the live-
This critical respect distinguishes this case from the decision in Van Bergen v. Minnesota, 59 F.3d 1541
(8th Cir. 1995). In Van Bergen, the Eighth Circuit upheld under intermediate scrutiny a Minnesota statute
almost identical to the Indiana Autodialer Law in a case that, like here, involved core political speech. Id.
at 1545-46, 1549-56; see also Bland v. Fessler, 88 F.3d 729 (9th Cir. 1996) (upholding similar California statute as applied to commercial speech); Moser v. FCC, 46 F.3d 970 (9th Cir. 1995) (upholding Tele-
phone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, 47 U.S.C. Â§ 227, under intermediate scrutiny). The Eighth Cir-
cuit held that the statute was content neutral, that Minnesota had advanced a substantial interest in pro-
tecting residential privacy, that the law was narrowly tailored to advance that interest, and that the statute
left open ample alternative channels for communication. Van Bergen, 59 F.3d at 1550-56. The panel in
Van Bergen expressly rejected the argument that the live-operator requirement imposed an effective ban
because it presented ?only a marginally more costly option.? Id. at 1556. Here, the record shows that the
live-operator requirement is far more than ?marginally? more expensive.[End Page 13]
operator requirement effectively eliminates this useful medium of expression altogether. In point
of fact, this is the live-requirement's stated purpose. Appellant's App. 14 (?The State concedes
that limiting the total volume of automated calls made to Indiana residences is the sole purpose
of requiring that consent be obtained by operators instead of an equally capable AIC system.?). This raises another First Amendment issue. Undeniably, any regulation of speech has
economic consequences in a broad sense. But in no case has the Supreme Court sustained a law
with a financial impact similar to the one required by the Autodialer Law, and it has invalidated
laws that subject speech to licensing taxes. See, e.g., Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105
(1943) (invalidating ordinance requiring door-to-door canvassers to pay a fee to and obtain a
permit from the municipality before conducting its speech activities); Grosjean v. Am. Press Co.,
Inc., 297 U.S. 233
(1936) (invalidating a state tax levied against newspapers). The only time the
Court upheld a time, place, or manner restriction that involved a fee imposed on the speaker in
order to speak was in Heffron v. International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc., where the state fair rented booths to speakers. 452 U.S. 640
(1981). But the Court noted in a footnote that
the propriety of the fee had not been raised and therefore passed no judgment on the issue. Id. at
644 n.4. Moreover, it is reasonable to presume that the fee at issue there was nowhere near the
cost imposed on speakers under the Autodialer Law, otherwise it likely would have been chal-
The statute also fails intermediate scrutiny because it fails to leave open ample and ade-
quate alternative channels of communication. As discussed in Part I, supra, prerecorded messag-
es delivered by autodialers are a relatively inexpensive means of communication that allow speakers to get a message out quickly and effectively to all potential voters. As a result, they
have become an extremely popular tool during political campaigns. Indeed, prerecorded mes- sages delivered by autodialers are unique in that they permit speakers to get a message out to
particular listeners in a short period of time. And it is well-established that the actual effective-
ness and practical utility of the supposed alternative channels of communication must be consid-
ered. See Linmark Assocs., Inc. v. Twp. of Willingboro, 431 U.S. 85
, 93 (1977).
[End Page 14]
With regard to the importance of the timing of political speech, the Supreme Court has
noted the following:
[T]he public begins to concentrate on elections only in the weeks immediately be-
fore they are held. There are short timeframes in which speech can have influ-
ence. The need or relevance of the speech will often first be apparent at this stage
in the campaign. The decision to speak is made in the heat of political campaigns,
when speakers react to messages conveyed by others.
Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S.
, 130 S. Ct. 876, 895 (2010). The means for contributing to
political debate, especially leading up to an election, must be able to be mobilized quickly.
There are few, if any, substitute media for a speaker to employ in response to an opponent's stra-
tegic last-minute attack advertisement. Moreover, important as the commercial media is to our
democracy, the advent of the highly competitive 24-hour news cycle arguably has resulted in less
reliability in the haste to be the first to ?scoop? a potential story that will set a reporter or journal-
ist apart from the rest of the pack. More-traditional methods of speech are therefore unlikely to
provide an adequate replacement for prerecorded messages delivered by an autodialer, particular-
ly when the speaker is from outside the State, such as a presidential candidate or an interest
group. See generally Jason C. Miller, Note, Regulating Robocalls: Are Automated Calls the
Sound of, or a Threat to, Democracy?, 16 Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev. 213 (2009), availa-
ble at http://www.mttlr.org/volsixteen/miller.pdf.
Finally, assuming for the sake of argument that television and radio advertising have the
mobility of prerecorded messages delivered by autodialers, those methods of speech have the
effect of drowning out candidates and groups with fewer resources. The State is wrong when it
argues that ?[t]he Supreme Court has been quite clear that, where content-neutral laws are con-
cerned, the relative efficiency of the affected medium of communication is irrelevant.? State?s
Reply Br. 23 (citations omitted). In point of fact, the Supreme Court has often expressed con-
cern about regulations that destroy a particularly useful and inexpensive medium of speech. See,
e.g., Watchtower, 536 U.S. at 163-64; Gilleo, 512 U.S. at 57. In striking down the ban on door-
to-door canvassing in Martin, the Court reasoned that ?[d]oor to door distribution of circulars is
[End Page 15]
essential to the poorly financed causes of little people.? 319 U.S. at 146. And in striking down a
Colorado statute prohibiting the use of paid petition circulators, the Court wrote the following:
That appellees remain free to employ other means to disseminate their
ideas does not take their speech through petition circulators outside the bounds of
First Amendment protection. Colorado's prohibition of paid petition circulators
restricts access to the most effective, fundamental, and perhaps economical ave-
nue of political discourse, direct one-on-one communication. That it leaves open
?more burdensome? avenues of communication, does not relieve its burden on
First Amendment expression. The First Amendment protects appellees? right not
only to advocate their cause but also to select what they believe to be the most ef-
fective means for doing so.
Meyer v. Grant, 486 U.S. 414
, 424 (1988) (citations omitted). Conclusion
I would hold that the Indiana Autodialer Law fails to satisfy the level of intermediate scrutiny applicable to content-neutral laws. And because the statute runs afoul of the First
Amendment, it seems to me even clearer that it violates Art. I, Â§ 9, of the Indiana Constitution,
for when it comes to political speech, Price v. State provides Hoosiers broader protections than
the First Amendment.
[End Page 16]