On March 31, 2017, the D.C. Circuit held that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lacked authority under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, as amended by the Junk Fax Prevention Act (collectively, the TCPA), to issue a rule, known as the “Solicited Fax Rule,” requiring businesses to include opt-out notices on solicited fax advertisements. Bais Yaakov of Spring Valley, et. Al. v. Federal Communications Commission and United States of America, No. 14-1234 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 31, 2017). Following this ruling, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement praising the ruling, reiterating his earlier criticism that the FCC’s approach to interpreting the law in the Solicited Fax Rule reflected “convoluted gymnastics.” The decision in Bais Yaakov and Chairman Pai’s statement may have implications beyond the Solicited Fax Rule, as other FCC interpretations of the TCPA arguably deviate from the statutory text in a manner similar to the Solicited Fax Rule. Accordingly, Bais Yaakov may signal an opportunity for TCPA defendants to pursue new challenges to the FCC’s rulemaking authority in opposition to questionable agency interpretations.

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