June 20, 2019
Decided June 20, 2019
PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic Inc., No. 17-1705
Today, the Supreme Court declined to resolve whether the Hobbs Act requires district courts to follow FCC Orders construing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), remanding for the court of appeals to consider “two preliminary issues.”
Petitioners (collectively, “PDR Network”) sent healthcare providers an unsolicited fax offering free copies of an e-book about prescription drugs. One of the providers sued PDR Network for violating the TCPA, which prohibits any person from faxing “unsolicited advertisement[s].” 47 U.S.C. § 227(b)(1)(C). The district court dismissed the case, refusing to follow a 2006 FCC Order stating that faxes promoting free goods or services are an “unsolicited advertisement” under the TCPA. Reversing, the Fourth Circuit reasoned that the Hobbs Act, which gives federal courts of appeals “exclusive jurisdiction” to determine the validity of certain FCC “final orders,” 28 U.S.C. § 2342(1), required the district court to adopt and apply the FCC Order’s interpretation of the TCPA.
Whether the Hobbs Act requires district courts to follow FCC Orders construing the TCPA.
The Court did not answer the question. Instead, it remanded for the Fourth Circuit to determine
(1) whether the FCC Order is a “legislative” or “interpretive” rule, and (2) whether PDR Network had a “prior” and “adequate” opportunity to challenge the FCC Order under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 703.
“[T]he extent to which the Order binds the lower courts may depend on the resolution of two preliminary sets of questions that were not aired before the Court of Appeals.”
Justice Breyer, writing for the majority
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