ATA Challenges Port of Los Angeles In Supreme Court Today

by Jana Ritter - Published: 4/17/2013

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge Tuesday to trucking regulations implemented several years ago at the Port of Los Angeles. The lawsuit was filed in 2008, and the case, brought by the American Trucking Associations, centers on provisions of the port's Clean Trucks Program limits which trucking companies can serve the port. The program, designed to limit pollution, allows only truck companies with special licenses to haul goods into and out of the nation's busiest port.


The trucking industry argues that the policy violates the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994, which limits the ability of local governments to regulate trucks. But there are exceptions, including one that could allow the Port of Los Angeles to act as any privately owned port firm would and impose conditions regarding which truck companies can access its facility.

"We believe it is clear that in 1980 Congress established that trucking should be shaped by the competitive market, rather than government regulations," said ATA Deputy Chief Counsel Richard Pianka. "And Congress underscored that desire in 1994 in the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act which prohibits state and local governments from enacting or enforcing any 'law, regulation, or provision having the force and effect of law related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier.' Despite this, leaders in Los Angeles moved forward with a plan to shape the market for trucking at the Port by imposing a laundry list of regulations that should all be clearly preempted by the FAAAA," Pianka furthered. "If these rules are allowed to stand, it would clear the way for a patchwork of regulations that would lead to unreasonable burdens on the movement of goods."

Arguing ATA's case for the Supreme Court today is Daniel Lerman, an attorney with the firm of Robbins Russell in Washington. In addition, the Solicitor General's office, representing the views of the federal government, joined with ATA in urging the Court to hold that the Port's requirements are impermissibly in conflict with the Congressional policy articulated in the FAAAA. A number of groups supported ATA's position by filing amicus briefs, including the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Airlines for America, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, National Federation of Independent Businesses and the Harbor Trucking Association.

However, when the Supreme Court agreed to take the case in January, port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz defended the Clean Trucks Program intentions, arguing that the Port of Los Angeles had revoked the privileges of only two or three of 900 overall concession holders since the program began.

An opinion is expected before July.