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Transportation – FAAAA — preemption

U.S. Supreme Court

Civil

Transportation – FAAAA — preemption

The Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA) preempts local parking and placard requirements.

The FAAAA expressly preempts the concession agreement’s placard and parking requirements. Section 14501(c)(1) preempts a state “law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier . . .with respect to the transportation of property.” 49 U. S. C. §14501(c)(1). Because the parties agree that the Port’s placard and parking requirements relate to a motor carrier’s price, route, or service with respect to transporting property, the only disputed question is whether those requirements “hav[e] the force and effect of law.” Section 14501(c)(1) draws a line between a government’s exercise of regulatory authority and its own contract-based participation in a market. The statute’s “force and effect of law” language excludes from the clause’s scope contractual arrangements made by a State when it acts as a market participant, not as a regulator. See, e.g., American Airlines, Inc. v. Wolens, 513 U. S. 219, 229. But here, the Port exercised classic regulatory authority in imposing the placard and parking requirements. It forced terminal operators—and through them, trucking companies—to alter their conduct by implementing a criminal prohibition punishable by imprisonment. That counts as action “having the force and effect of law” if anything does.    The Port’s primary argument to the contrary focuses on motives rather than means. But the Port’s proprietary intentions do not control. When the government employs a coercive mechanism, available to no private party, it acts with the force and effect of law, whether or not it does so to turn a profit. Only if it forgoes the (distinctively governmental) exercise of legal authority may it escape §14501(c)(1)’s preemptive scope. That the criminal sanctions fall on terminal operators, not directly on the trucking companies, also makes no difference. See, e.g., Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transp. Assn., 552  U. S. 364, 371–373.

660 F. 3d 384, reversed in part and remanded.

11-798 American Trucking Associations, Inc., v. City of Los Angeles

Kagan, J.; Thomas, J., concurring.

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