Collector - April 2020 - 41

BUSINESSOPERATIONS

Section 227(b)(1)(A)(iii), leaving the
TCPA's other provisions-regulating other
types of communications-intact."
Conversely, the government wants the
court to conclude that the government
debt exception does not represent a
content-based restriction on speech at
all, arguing that it depends not on the
content of the auto-dialed call but on
the relationship between the called party
and the government. For this reason, the
government asserts, the government debt
exception and Section 227(b)(1)(A)(iii)
should be subject to a less stringent level of
review-one that the provision in question
would survive.
How the court answers these questions
will ultimately decide the case: Does the
government-debt exception to the TCPA's
automated-call restriction violate the First
Amendment? If so, would it be proper for

the court to remedy this constitutional
violation by severing the exception from
the remainder of the statute?

ACA'S JUDICIAL ADVOCACY
ACA, as a mouthpiece for the accounts
receivable management industry, has
a role to play in the Supreme Court's
consideration of these questions. By
participating as an amicus curiae ("friend
of the court"), we can provide the court
with our industry's view on the salient
issues. We call this "judicial advocacy."
Unfortunately, ACA has members on
both sides of the issue in this case, which
complicates the choice about whether and
how to intervene. For those agencies that
collect government debt or governmentbacked debt, e.g., certain student loans, the
4th Circuit's decision could not have been
worse: it both invalidated the government

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COLLECTOR 04.20

debt loans exception and left the TCPA's
autodialed calls prohibition in place.
ACA members that collect government
debt would like to see the government debt
exception left untouched. But with that
exception in place, there's little question
that Section 227(b)(1)(A)(iii) becomes
a content-based restriction on speech
that requires the application of strict
scrutiny, which would be a high hurdle
for the statute in its current form. ACA,
being the voice of the ARM industry, has
no interest in standing on the sidelines
while the Supreme Court considers the
appropriate remedy. For that reason, ACA
will be supporting the effort to convince
the court that the statute now poses an
unconstitutional infringement on speech
and that the only proper remedy will be
to strike 227(b)(1)(A)(iii) rather than
perform judicial surgery on the statute and
return it to its pre-2015 form. Invalidation
of Section 227(b)(1)(A)(iii) in its entirety
should benefit all ACA members equally
as it would lift a significant barrier to our
members' ability to communicate with
consumers via their cellular telephones.
This case pointedly demonstrates the
measured approach that ACA must take
to judicial advocacy, carefully weighing
the costs and benefits of its efforts on
behalf of our members. Here, ACA's
Judicial Committee and association staff
undertook a careful consideration of
the merits of the approaches that were
available to us, and ultimately decided
that sitting this one out was not an option
and that supporting the governmentdebt exception would be a less effective
approach to representing our members'
broadest interests before the high court
than would seeking the invalidation of
Section 227(b)(1)(A)(iii). Now comes the
difficult yet delicate task of collaborating
with our exceptional amicus counsel at
Gray Reed to craft a brief that places the
emphasis of our argument exactly where
we want.
Colin Winkler is ACA International's
corporate counsel.

41



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