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MORALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF TEXAS v.
TRANS WORLD AIRLINES, INC., ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
No. 90–1604. Argued March 3, 1992—Decided June 1, 1992 In order to ensure that the States would not undo the anticipated benefits
of federal deregulation of the airline industry, the pre-emption provision of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA) prohibits them from enforcing any law “relating to sair carriers'] rates, routes, or services.” 49 U. S. C. App. $ 1305(a)(1). After the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) adopted guidelines that contain detailed standards governing, inter alia, the content and format of airline fare advertising, and that purport to be enforceable through the States' general consumer protection statutes, petitioner's predecessor as Attorney General of Texas sent notices of intent to sue to enforce the guidelines against the allegedly deceptive fare advertisements of several of the respondent airlines. Those respondents filed suit in the District Court for injunctive and other relief, claiming that state regulation of fare advertisements is pre-empted by $ 1305(a)(1). The court ultimately issued an order permanently enjoining any state enforcement action that would regulate or restrict "any aspect” of respondents' fare advertising or other operations involving rates, routes, or services. The Court of
Appeals affirmed. Held:
1. Assuming that $ 1305(a)(1) pre-empts state enforcement of the fare advertising portions of the NAAG guidelines, the District Court could properly award respondents injunctive relief restraining such enforcement. The basic doctrine that equity courts should not act when the moving party has an adequate remedy at law does not prevent federal courts from enjoining state officers from acting to enforce an unconstitutional state law where, as here, such action is imminent, repetitive penalties attach to continuing or repeated violations of the law, and the moving party lacks the realistic option of violating the law once and raising its federal defenses. Ex parte Young, 209 U. S. 123, 145–147, 156, 163–165. As petitioner has threatened to enforce only the obligations described in the fare advertising portions of the guidelines, however, the injunction must be vacated insofar as it restrains the operation of state laws with respect to other matters. See, e. g., Public Serv. Comm'n of Utah v. Wycoff Co., 344 U. S. 237, 240–241. Pp. 380-383.
2. Enforcement of the NAAG fare advertising guidelines through a State's general consumer protection laws is pre-empted by the ADA. Pp. 383-391.
(a) In light of the breadth of $ 1305(a)(1)'s “relating to” phrase, a state enforcement action is pre-empted if it has a connection with, or reference to, airline “rates, routes, or services.” Cf. Shaw v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 463 U. S. 85, 95–96. Petitioner's various objections to this reading are strained and not well taken. Pp. 383–387.
(b) The challenged NAAG guidelines—which require, inter alia, that advertisements contain certain disclosures as to fare terms, restrictions, and availability-obviously “relat[e] to rates” within the meaning of $ 1305(a)(1) and are therefore pre-empted. Each guideline bears an express reference to airfares, and, collectively, they establish binding requirements as to how tickets may be marketed if they are to be sold at given prices. In any event, beyond the guidelines' express reference to fares, it is clear as an economic matter that they would have the forbidden effect upon fares: Their compelled disclosures and advertising restrictions would have a significant impact on the airlines' ability to market their product, and hence a significant impact upon the fares they
charge. Pp. 387–391. 949 F. 2d 141, affirmed in part and reversed in part.
SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, O'CONNOR, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and BLACKMUN, J., joined, post, p. 419. SOUTER, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Stephen Gardner, Assistant Attorney General of Texas, argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Dan Morales, Attorney General of Texas, pro se, Will Pryor, First Assistant Attorney General, and Mary F. Keller, Deputy Attorney General.
Keith A. Jones argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief for respondent airlines were David Wilks Corban, Andrew C. Freedman, and Ronald D. Secrest. A brief for 31 State Attorneys General, respondents under this Court's Rule 12.4, in support of petitioner was filed by Daniel E. Lungren, Attorney General of California, Roderick E. Walston, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Herschel T. Elkins, Senior Assistant Attorney General, and Albert Norman
Sheldon, Deputy Attorney General, Scott Harshbarger, Attorney General of Massachusetts, and Ernest L. Sarason, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General of Minnesota, and David Woodward, Special Assistant Attorney General, Robert Abrams, Attorney General of New York, and Ronna D. Brown and Andrea C. Levine, Assistant Attorneys General, Charles Cole, Attorney General of Alaska, and James Forbes, Assistant Attorney General, Grant Woods, Attorney General of Arizona, and Carmen D. Claudio, Assistant Attorney General, Gale A. Norton, Attorney General of Colorado, and Garth C. Lucero, First Assistant Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General of Connecticut, and Robert M. Langer, Assistant Attorney General, Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General of Florida, and Richard F. Scott, Assistant Attorney General, Larry Echo Hawk, Attorney General of Idaho, and Brett T. Delange, Deputy Attorney General, Roland W. Burris, Attorney General of Illinois, and Deborah Hagen, Assistant Attorney General, Bonnie J. Campbell, Attorney General of Iowa, and Steve St. Clair, Assistant Attorney General, Robert T. Stephan, Attorney General of Kansas, and Dan Kolditz, Deputy Attorney General, J. Joseph Curran, Jr., Attorney General of Maryland, and Vincent Demarco, Assistant Attorney General, Frank J. Kelley, Attorney General of Michigan, and Frederick H. Hoffecker, Assistant Attorney General, William L. Webster, Attorney General of Missouri, and Clayton S. Friedman, Assistant Attorney General, Don Stenberg, Attorney General of Nebraska, and Paul N. Potadle, Assistant Attorney General, Frankie Sue Del Papa, Attorney General of Nevada, and Philip R. Byrnes, Deputy Attorney General, Lacy H. Thornburg, Attorney General of North Carolina, and K. D. Sturgis, Assistant Attorney General, Nicholas J. Spaeth, Attorney General of North Dakota, and David W. Huey, Assistant Attorney General, Lee Fisher, Attorney General of Ohio, and Mark T.
D'Alessandro, Assistant Attorney General, Susan B. Loving, Attorney General of Oklahoma, and Jane F. Wheeler, Assistant Attorney General, Charles Crookham, Attorney General of Oregon, Virginia Linder, Solicitor General, and Michael Reynolds, Assistant Attorney General, James E. O'Neil, Attorney General of Rhode Island, and Terrance Hassett and Lee Baker, Special Assistant Attorneys General, Mark W. Barnett, Attorney General of South Dakota, and Jeffrey P. Hallem, Assistant Attorney General, Charles W. Burson, Attorney General of Tennessee, and Charlotte H. Rappuhn, Assistant Attorney General, Jeffrey L. Amestoy, Attorney General of Vermont, and J. Wallace Malley, Jr., Assistant Attorney General, Kenneth O. Eikenberry, Attorney General of Washington, and Robert F. Manifold, Assistant Attorney General, Mario J. Palumbo, Attorney General of West Virginia, and Don Darling, Deputy Attorney General, James E. Doyle, Attorney General of Wisconsin, and James D. Jeffries and Barbara Tuerkheimer, Assistant Attorneys General, and Joseph B. Meyer, Attorney General of Wyoming, and Mark Moran, Assistant Attorney General.
Stephen L. Nightingale argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance. With him on the brief were Acting Solicitor General Roberts, Assistant Attorney General Gerson, Robert V. Zener, Robert D. Kamenshine, and Arthur J. Rothkopf.*
*Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for the State of Hawaii et al. by Warren Price III, Attorney General of Hawaii, and Girard D. Lau and Steven S. Michaels, Deputy Attorneys General, and by the Attorneys General for their respective States as follows: James H. Evans of Alabama, Linley E. Pearson of Indiana, Richard P. Ieyoub of Louisiana, Mike Moore of Mississippi, Robert J. Del Tufo of New Jersey, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Ernest Preate, Jr., of Pennsylvania, Paul Van Dam of Utah, and Mary Sue Terry of Virginia; and for the Public Citizen and Aviation Consumer Action Project by Cornish F. Hitchcock and Alan B. Morrison.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for American Airlines, Inc., by Steven C. McCracken and Jane G. Allen; for the American
Opinion of the Court
JUSTICE SCALIA delivered the opinion of the Court.
The issue in this case is whether the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, 49 U. S. C. App. § 1301 et seq., pre-empts the States from prohibiting allegedly deceptive airline fare advertisements through enforcement of their general consumer protection statutes.
I Prior to 1978, the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (FAA), 72 Stat. 731, as amended, 49 U. S. C. App. § 1301 et seq., gave the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) authority to regulate interstate airfares and to take administrative action against certain deceptive trade practices. It did not, however, expressly pre-empt state regulation, and contained a "saving clause” providing that “[n]othing ... in this chapter shall in any way abridge or alter the remedies now existing at common law or by statute, but the provisions of this chapter are in addition to such remedies.” 49 U. S. C. App. $ 1506. As a result, the States were able to regulate intrastate airfares (including those offered by interstate air carriers), see, e. g., California v. CAB, 189 U. S. App. D. C. 176, 178, 581 F. 2d 954, 956 (1978), cert. denied, 439 U. S. 1068 (1979), and to enforce their own laws against deceptive trade practices, see Nader v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc., 426 U. S. 290, 300 (1976).
In 1978, however, Congress, determining that “maximum reliance on competitive market forces” would best further “efficiency, innovation, and low prices” as well as "variety [and] quality . . . of air transportation services,” enacted the Airline Deregulation Act (ADA). 49 U. S. C. App. $$ 1302(a)(4), 1302(a)(9). To ensure that the States would not undo federal deregulation with regulation of their own, the ADA included a pre-emption provision, prohibiting the States from enforcing any law “relating to rates, routes, or
Association of Advertising Agencies, Inc., by David S. Versfelt and Valerie L. Schulte; and for the Association of National Advertisers, Inc., by Burt Neuborne and Gilbert H. Weil.