If 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 would have been an appropriate basis for relief, then the party is entitled to attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1988 even though relief was actually awarded on another ground.
The trucking company brought an action against the state to declare its statute, Iowa Code § 321.457 (1979), to be invalid. The district court held that the statute violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The trucking company sought attorney's fees under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1988, contending that 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 applied to violations of the Commerce Clause because the right to engage in commerce was secured by the Constitution. The trucking company also claimed that the statute deprived it of property without due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court denied the claim for attorney's fees. On appeal, the court affirmed.
Does the Commerce Clause secures rights which are cognizable under § 1983?
The court held that the Commerce Clause did not secure rights that were cognizable under § 1983. The court also held that, although violations of the Fourteenth Amendment were within the ambit of § 1983, the trucking company had not established a Fourteenth Amendment violation as a basis for applying § 1983.