American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, et al.

Term: 2012 Term
Oral Argument Date: April 16, 2013
Vote: 9-0
Opinion: Kagan

Question(s) Presented
  1. Whether an unexpressed “market participant” exception exists in Section 1450(c)(1) and permits a municipal governmental entity to take action that conflicts with the express preemption clause, occurs in a market in which the municipal entity does not participate, and is unconnected with any interest in the efficient procurement of services.
  2. Whether permitting a municipal governmental entity to bar federally licensed motor carriers from access to a port operates as a partial suspension of the motor carriers' federal registration, in violation of Castle v. Hayes Freight Lines, Inc., 348 U.S. 61 (1954).

     
NCLC's Position

NCLC urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the decision of the Ninth Circuit, which erroneously held that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) does not preempt the truck concession portion of the Los Angeles Port's "Clean Truck Program".  NCLC explained in its amicus brief that even though the FAAAA expressly bars state and local governments from imposing their own regulations on interstate trucking, the Ninth Circuit claimed that the Port could impose rules on trucks transporting shipping containers because the Port was allegedly acting as a “market participant” in its capacity as a "landlord," rather than as a regulator. NCLC's amicus brief argued that the Ninth Circuit's far-reaching opinion could have implications far beyond the trucking industry. NCLC explained that the plain text of the FAAAA includes no such market participation exception, nor should the courts be empowered to judicially graft such exceptions onto statutes whenever the courts see fit. Moreover, NCLC argued, the Port is clearly operating in a regulatory rather than market capacity. NCLC’s brief warned that if the Ninth Circuit’s decision is upheld, then express-preemption provisions in the FAAAA and other federal statutes will be easily circumvented.

Case Outcome

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Ninth Circuit and held that the FAAAA expressly preempts the port program's requirements that a company develop an off-street parking plan and display designated placards on its vehicles.  The Court declined to decide whether the financial capacity and truck maintenance requirements were preempted.

Justices in Majority
Alito
Breyer
Ginsburg
Kagan
Kennedy
Roberts
Scalia
Sotomayor
Thomas
Procedural History

NCLC amicus brief supporting cert. filed 1/23/2012. Solicitor General invited to file a brief 5/26/12. Cert. granted 1/11/13.  NCLC amicus brief on the merits filed 2/22/13. Decided 6/13/13.

Case Documents