The high court's decision Wednesday involves a lawsuit claiming a debt collector harassed a man with repeated recorded calls.
Marcus Mims of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said he kept getting the calls from Arrow Financial Services LLC, which was trying to collect a student loan debt for Sallie Mae. He sued for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, passed by Congress to ban invasive telemarketing practices.
Mims' lawsuit was thrown out by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said that Congress did not explicitly give permission for federal lawsuits in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, although the law does say people can file in state courts. Other federal courts ruled differently and let lawsuits move forward.
The high court said in a unanimous opinion that federal lawsuits are allowed under the law.
"Nothing in the text, structure, purpose or legislative history of the TCPA purports to deprive U.S. district courts of the jurisdiction they ordinarily have," said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court.
The case now goes back to the appeals court in Atlanta.
The case is Mims v. Arrow Financial Services, LLC, 10-1195.