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Rowe v. N.H. Motor Transp. Ass'n

Supreme Court of the United States

November 28, 2007, Argued; February 20, 2008, Decided

No. 06-457

Opinion

 [**993]  [*367]   Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court.

We here consider whether a federal statute that prohibits States from enacting any law "related to" a motor carrier "price, route, or service" pre-empts two provisions of a Maine tobacco law, which regulate the delivery of tobacco to customers within the State. 49 U.S.C. §§ 14501(c)(1), 41713(b)(4)(A); see Me. Rev. Stat. Ann., Tit. 22, §§ 1555-C(3)(C), 1555-D (second sentence) (2004). We hold that the federal law pre-empts both provisions.

In 1978, Congress "determin[ed] that 'maximum reliance on competitive market forces'" would favor lower airline fares and better airline service, and it enacted the Airline  [*368]  Deregulation Act. Morales v. Trans World Airlines, Inc., 504 U.S. 374, 378, 112 S. Ct. 2031, 119 L. Ed. 2d 157 (1992) (quoting 49 U.S.C. App. § 1302(a)(4) (1988 ed.)); see 92 Stat. 1705. In order to "ensure that the States would not undo federal deregulation with regulation of their own,"  [***938] that Act "included  [****7] a pre-emption provision" that said "no State . . . shall enact or enforce any law . . . relating to rates, routes, or services of any air carrier." Morales, supra, at 378, 112 S. Ct. 2031, 119 L. Ed. 2d 157; 49 U.S.C. App. § 1305(a)(1) (1988 ed.).

In 1980, Congress deregulated trucking. See Motor Carrier Act of 1980, 94 Stat. 793. And a little over a decade later, in 1994, Congress similarly sought to pre-empt state trucking regulation. See Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, 108 Stat. 1605-1606; see also ICC Termination Act of 1995, 109 Stat. 899. In doing so, it borrowed language from the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 and wrote into its 1994 law language that says: "[A] State . . . may not enact or enforce a 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); see also § 41713(b)(4)(A) (similar provision for combined motor-air carriers).

The State of Maine subsequently adopted An Act To Regulate the Delivery and Sales of Tobacco Products and To Prevent the Sale of Tobacco Products to Minors, 2003 Me. Acts p 1089, two sections of which are relevant here. The first section forbids anyone other than  [****8] a Maine-licensed tobacco retailer to accept an order for delivery of tobacco. Me. Rev. Stat. Ann., Tit. 22, § 1555-C(1). It then adds that, when a licensed retailer accepts an order and ships tobacco, the retailer must "utilize a delivery service" that provides a [**994]  special kind of recipient-verification service. § 1555-C(3)(C). The delivery service must make certain that (1) the person who bought the tobacco is the person to whom the package is addressed; (2) the person to whom the package is addressed is of legal age to purchase tobacco; (3) the person to whom  [*369]  the package is addressed has himself or herself signed for the package; and (4) the person to whom the package is addressed, if under the age of 27, has produced a valid government-issued photo identification with proof of age. Ibid.  Violations are punishable by civil penalties. See §§ 1555-C(3)(E) to C(3)(F) (first offense up to $ 1,500; subsequent offenses up to $ 5,000).

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552 U.S. 364 *; 128 S. Ct. 989 **; 169 L. Ed. 2d 933 ***; 2008 U.S. LEXIS 2010 ****; 76 U.S.L.W. 4102; 29 A.L.R. Fed. 2d 783; 21 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 89

G. STEVEN ROWE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MAINE, Petitioner v. NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION, et al.

Prior History:  [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT.

N.H. Motor Transp. Ass'n v. Rowe, 448 F.3d 66, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 12264 (1st Cir. Me., 2006).

Disposition: Affirmed.

CORE TERMS

tobacco, carrier, regulation, pre-empts, federal law, pre-emption, public health, routes, Airline, marks, package, state law, rates, tobacco product, Deregulation, quotation, retailer, delivery service, motor carrier, shipments, carriage, delivery, minors, sales, provisions, transport, licensed, forbids, Amici

Business & Corporate Compliance, Transportation Law, Commercial Vehicles, Rates & Tariffs, Transportation Law, Interstate Commerce, Federal Preemption, Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Tobacco Products, State Regulation, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation