DENVER - A federal appeals court on Tuesday cleared away a hurdle that has kept the government from fully cracking down on telemarketers who contact people on the national "do-not-call" list.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked a lower court order barring the Federal Trade Commission from enforcing the registry of more than 50 million numbers.
The court questioned the conclusions of U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham of Denver, who said the list violates the telemarketing industry’s free-speech rights by barring calls from businesses but not charities.
‘‘The Supreme Court has held that there is undoubtedly a substantial governmental interest in the prevention of abusive and coercive sales practices,’’ the appeals court said.
The court also noted Congress had found some telemarketing calls ‘‘subjected consumers to substantial fraud, deception and abuse.’’
FTC Chairman Timothy Muris called the ruling a victory for American consumers and said his agency will return to enforcing the list. The Federal Communications Commission had stepped in at the last minute to handle enforcement, allowing the registry to take effect last week.
Nottingham’s ruling had forced the FTC to shut down an Internet and telephone system that allowed people to register new numbers with the list and file complaints against telemarketers. FTC officials say it will take at least a day to get it up and running again.
The court fight isn’t finished. The appeals court said the FTC can run the registry wh ile a challenge from telemarketers winds its way through the courts.
Sean Gallagher, an attorney who represents the American Teleservices Association and two telemarketing companies, said he was disappointed by the appeals court decision but refused to call it a defeat.
‘‘This does not reverse the judge’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional,’’ he said.