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Court strikes down Montana law barring political robocalls

HELENA, Mont. — A federal appeals court says a Montana law that restricts automated telephone calls about political campaigns violates the First Amendment’s free-speech protections.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that so-called robocalls can’t be regulated based on the content of their messages.

The ruling that strikes down the 1991 Montana law barring political robocalls also applies to the eight other Western states within the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction.

The judges say the court has previously upheld state laws that regulate robocalls, such as those that aim to protect consumers from scams.

But they say restricting a robocall based on its content is a different matter. The opinion written by Judge Richard Paez says “prohibiting political robocalls strikes at the heart of the First Amendment.”

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