Rowe v. The New Hampshire Motor Transport Association was decided in the US Supreme Court on February 20, 2008, and already serves as a precedent in an airline case. The case centered on freight issues, and established federal preemption of a state law that had significant impact on carrier services, which is preempted by federal statutes.
Known as the Maine Tobacco Delivery Law, the statue at issue in the US Supreme Court case was also argued on merits of protecting public health, but the Supreme Court did not find sufficient grounds there to allow preemption by the state.
Just a month after the Supreme Court ruled that state laws cannot preempt on matters related to rates, routes or service, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is using the same language to quash a state law in New York establishing a passengers bill of rights.
Much of the language of the appellate court returns to the same arguments as in the Maine Tobacco Delivery Law case, including the point that the US Congress established means to ensure that states would not undo airline deregulation with a regulation of their own.
The court cites Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transport Association in its ruling, saying that while the court has not defined “service” it is clear that requiring airlines to provide food, water, electricity and restrooms to passengers during lengthy ground delays relates to service and from the unanimous opinion on Rowe, “state enforcement actions having a connection with or reference to carrier rates, routes or services are preempted.”
Defending Transportation Deregulation