U.S. District Court rules Seattle’s opt-out law is constitutional

Today U.S. District Judge James L. Robart filed his final judgment ruling in favor of Seattle in the case Dex Media West, Inc., et al., vs. The City of Seattle. Judge Robart had previously upheld Seattle’s law against challenges brought by the yellow pages publishers under both the First Amendment and Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  Today’s ruling rejected challenges brought by the publishers under three provisions of the Washington State Constitution.

In today’s ruling, Judge Robart held that Seattle’s opt-out ordinances (123427 and 123532) do not violate the Washington State Constitution’s Free Speech Clause, Supremacy Clause, or Privileges and Immunities Clause. Yellow pages publishers have 30 days to file a notice of appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Councilmember Mike O’Brien, sponsor of the opt-out legislation, expects the publishers to appeal Judge Robart’s decision sometime next week.

“Today is a great victory for Seattle in our ongoing effort to reduce unwanted paper waste. While we anticipate an appeal to the higher court, we are pleased that the District Court ruled in favor of the City on every constitutional challenge brought by the publishers. This decision vindicates our belief that the industry does not have a fundamental right to deliver yellow pages to the doorsteps of residents who do not want them,” said Councilmember O’Brien.

As of September 1, more than 55,600 homes and businesses have already opted out of approximately 338,000 yellow pages phone books since May 5, when Seattle’s stopphonebooks registry went live.

Seattle’s opt out ordinances require that residents or business wishing to opt out of unwanted yellow pages must do so 30 days prior to scheduled delivery. The next opt-out deadline for Seattle residents and businesses who want to stop getting some or all yellow pages phone books is September 23.

In addition to the on-line registry, Seattle residents and businesses can also opt-out by automated phone line at 206-504-3066. Mail-in postcards are also available at the city’s Neighborhood Service Centers in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Somali, Korean, and Tagalog.

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