Bush to sign embattled do not call legislation

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush says he will sign a bill to set up the national do-not-call registry, but his action does little to keep telemarketers off the phone lines.

Court actions in Oklahoma and Colorado mean telemarketers can keep dialing even after Bush signs legislation to ratify the Federal Trade Commission's authority to establish the no-call list, which has swelled to more than 50 million home and cellular numbers.

After a bewildering week of court reversals and breakneck congressional action, the FTC said its anti-telemarketing service scheduled to take effect Wednesday has been placed on hold.

"We'll ultimately have a national do-not-call registry," FTC Commissioner Timothy Muris said Sunday on CNN. He urged patience from Americans eager for the service, which is intended to block about 80 percent of telemarketing calls.

U.S. District Judge Lee R. West ruled Tuesday in Oklahoma City that the FTC lacks authority to run the registry. That prompted Congress to quickly pass a bill clarifying the agency's role.

Bush planned to sign the measure at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

U.S. District Judge Edward W. Nottingham ruled in Denver on Thursday the do-not-call list is unconstitutional on free-speech grounds because it applies to calls from businesses but not charities.

"We believe that the judge is wrong," the FTC's Muris said. "It'll eventually be reversed. We're hopeful that we'll get a stay of the lower court judge's ruling, but if we don't we'll ultimately prevail."