On August 6, 2015, the Fourth Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision that the South Carolina anti-robocall statute was unconstitutional. The South Carolina robocall statute targeted automated telephone calls that were political in nature, which the court found was not content neutral. The court cited a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which held that a regulation on speech is subject to strict scrutiny as “content-based” or intermediate scrutiny as “content neutral.” The Court held, “Under the content-neutrality framework set forth in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, we find that the anti-robocall statute is a content-based regulation that does not survive strict scrutiny.”
This decision stems from the 2010 arrest of political consultant, Robert C. Cahaly, who set up an automated opinion polling system to ask whether Nancy Pelosi should be invited to campaign. While the charges were dropped, Cahaly filed suit against state officials on claims that his constitutional rights were violated.