December 9, 2019 / 2:49 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to Berkeley cell phone law

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington, U.S., March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a free speech challenge brought by a trade group against a regulation issued by the California city of Berkeley that requires cell phone retailers to tell customers of certain radiation risks.

The justices left in place a July 2019 decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that refused to block the 2015 regulation that industry group CTIA appealed.

CTIA said the regulation violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects free speech rights, because the government, without the necessary justification that supports other types of regulations, is forcing retailers to spread a message they disagree with.

The 2015 regulation requires retailers to provider a notice to customers saying that carrying a cell phone can exceed Federal Communications Commission guidelines for exposure to radio-frequency radiation.

“If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines,” the notice says.

CTIA disputed the content of the notice, saying it is misleading because the FCC has concluded that carrying a cell phone is safe.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; editing by Grant McCool

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