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1. At times, governments may need to acquire private property to be used for governmental purposes. For example, when the government needs property to build a new school or a firehouse, or to construct a road or freeway, it may need to acquire the necessary property from private landowners. The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides the government with this power. Private property can only be taken for public use. The Just Compensation Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the government to compensate the property owner when it takes private property.

This process is called eminent domain

Find a story in the news about a case where the government took property from an individual and discuss whether it was legal or not.  Share your personal thoughts on this practice.

2. Pursuant to enabling statutes, two federal administrative agencies—the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)—created the national do-not-call registry. The national do-not-call registry is a list that contains the personal telephone numbers of telephone users who have voluntarily placed themselves on this list, indicating that they do not want to receive unsolicited calls from commercial telemarketers. Commercial telemarketers are prohibited from calling phone numbers that have been placed on the do-not-call registry. Telemarketers must pay an annual fee to access the phone numbers on the registry so that they can delete those numbers from their solicitation lists. The national do-not-call registry restrictions apply only to telemarketers’ calls made by or on behalf of sellers of goods or services. Charitable and fundraising calls are exempt from the do-not-call registry’s restrictions. Persons who do not voluntarily place their phone numbers on the do-not-call registry may still receive unsolicited telemarketers’ calls.

Mainstream Marketing Services, Inc., and other telemarketers sued the FTC and the FCC in several lawsuits, alleging that their free speech rights were violated and that the do-not-call registry was unconstitutional. The FTC and FCC defended the list, arguing that unsolicited telemarketing calls constituted commercial speech that could properly be regulated by the government’s do-not-call registry’s restrictions. The separate lawsuits were consolidated for appeal. Mainstream Marketing Services, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission, 358 F.3d 1228, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 2564 (United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, 2004)

  • What is commercial speech?
  • Are unsolicited telemarketing calls commercial speech that is constitutionally regulated by the do-not-call registry restrictions?
  • Do telemarketers act ethically in calling persons with their promotions and sales pitches?
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