UNITED MOTORCOACH ASSOCIATION, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff - Appellant
CITY OF AUSTIN, Defendant-Appellee
from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Texas
DAVIS, DENNIS, and SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judges.
H. SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judge.
appeal raises the issue of whether federal law preempts a
city's exercise of regulatory authority over the
intrastate operation of charter buses. A national association
of charter-bus companies sought to enjoin regulations
affecting their operations enacted by the City of Austin,
Texas. The district court held that the regulations were not
preempted. We AFFIRM.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Austin city ordinance regulates "charter bus service,
" which it defines as "transportation provided for
compensation at the request of a third party for the
exclusive use of a vehicle with a capacity of at least
sixteen persons . . . providing service originating,
terminating and travelling solely within the city
limits." Austin City Code § 13-2-1(1). Under the
first set of relevant regulations, the "permitting
regulations, " operators of charter-bus service must
obtain a city permit, which requires them to submit an
application including various pieces of information as to the
association between the holder and its vehicles, the
applicant's criminal history, current vehicle inspections
and drivers' licenses, and proof of valid federal or
state operating authority. Id. § 13-2-253.
permitting regulations also regulate charter-bus operations
within Austin. Matters covered include how passengers may be
dropped off in relation to the curb and what must be done if
a bus breaks down. Id. §§ 13-2-270, 271.
Failure to comply with the permitting regulations can lead to
revocation or suspension of an operator's permit.
Id. § 13-2-263. The ordinance also contains
another set of regulations, the "decal regulations,
" which require each operator to display at all times a
decal of its permit and, when relevant, a "special event
permit." Id. § 13-2-267, 285.
2013, United Motorcoach Association ("UMA"), a
national association of professional bus companies, filed
this suit against the City seeking a permanent injunction
against both the permitting and the decal regulations. It
argued that the regulations are preempted by federal law. In
March 2014, the district court denied a preliminary
injunction on any part of the regulations except for two
provisions that are not at issue in this appeal. After UMA
amended its complaint in early 2015, cross-motions for
summary judgment were filed in July. In January 2016, the
district court granted UMA a permanent injunction as to the
decal regulations but denied any further relief. UMA's
appeal solely concerns the district court's ruling
denying relief as to the permitting regulations. The City has
arguments about preemption are based on a federal statute
captioned "Federal authority over intrastate
transportation." See 49 U.S.C. § 14501. It
provides that States and their governmental subdivisions may
not enforce rules affecting interstate or intrastate
transportation by a motor carrier of passengers, with
identified exceptions. Id. § 14501(a). There is
much more to the statute, and we will presently analyze the
determining a federal statute's preemptive reach,
congressional purpose is "the ultimate touchstone."
Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U.S. 470, 485 (1996)
(quotation marks omitted). "Evidence of pre-emptive
purpose is sought in the text and structure of the statute at
issue, " and "in the first instance [we] focus on
the plain wording of the clause, which necessarily contains
the best evidence of Congress' pre-emptive intent."
CSX Transp., Inc. v. Easterwood, 507 U.S. 658, 664
(1993). Nonetheless, "we start with the assumption that
the historic police powers of the States were not to be
superseded by the Federal Act unless that was the clear and
manifest purpose of Congress." City of Columbus v.
Ours Garage & Wrecker Serv., Inc., 536 U.S. 424, 432
(2002) (quotation marks omitted). That means that when there
is "more than one plausible reading [of the text, we]
ordinarily accept the reading that disfavors
pre-emption." Altria Grp., Inc. v. Good, 555
U.S. 70, 77 (2008) (quotation marks omitted).
preemption issue that remains in this suit arises from the
district court's holding that a savings clause in the
statute exempted the permitting regulations from
preemption. We thus address only whether the
permitting regulations are preempted.
party seeking a permanent injunction must satisfy a four-part
test: it must show (1) success on the merits; (2) the failure
to grant the injunction will result in irreparable injury;
(3) the injury outweighs any damage that the injunction will
cause the opposing party; and (4) the injunction will not
disserve the public interest. VRC LLC v. City of
Dallas, 460 F.3d 607, 611 (5th Cir. 2006). We start with
the district court's preemption rulings, which are legal
issues we review de novo. Id.
sections of the statute at issue provide:
(a) Motor Carriers of Passengers.
(1)Limitation on State law.-No State or political subdivision
thereof shall enact or enforce any law, rule, regulation,
standard, or other provision having the ...