The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) Requests Preliminary Injunction Against AB5 Claiming that AB5 (and the Dreaded “ABC” Test) Violates the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.
By G Spencer Mynko, ESQ
OOIDA has decided to take a shot against AB5 and the ABC test. Hoping to succeed where the California Trucking Association (CTA) failed, OOIDA is attacking AB5 utilizing a different legal theory. The CTA argued that AB5 and the ABC test were preempted by federal law, essentially stating that the State of California was encroaching upon legal territory exclusively occupied and controlled by the Federal Government. Unfortunately, we all know how the Federal Preemption argument ended up, with the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals, saying “Nahhh – No it doesn’t”, but only after writing 39 pages of legal bullshit for the benefit of people who didn’t smoke a joint before reading the opinion of the court.
Now, OOIDA is arguing that AB5 violates the Commerce Clause.
What is the Commerce Clause?
The commerce clause is an enumerated power, specifically listed in Article 1, Section 8, clause 3 of the United States Constitution. The clause states that the United States Congress shall have power to “regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes”. Pardon me while I geek out on legal mumbo-jumbo, but this is what the US Supreme Court said about the significance of the Commerce Clause in Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (which incidentally is a case about medical marijuana):
“The Commerce Clause emerged as the Framers’ response to the central problem giving rise to the Constitution itself: the absence of any federal commerce power under the Articles of Confederation. For the first century of our history, the primary use of the Clause was to preclude the kind of discriminatory state legislation that had once been permissible. Then, in response to rapid industrial development and
an increasingly interdependent national economy, Congress “ushered in a new era of federal regulation under the commerce power,” beginning with the enactment of the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887 and the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890.”
OOIDA’s lawyers essentially reiterated this in their motion requesting an injunction:
“The Commerce Clause gives Congress the authority to regulate commerce between the states. U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 3. This grant of authority implies a restriction on states’ authority to interrupt—by discriminating against or imposing improper burdens on—interstate commerce …. Giving Congress the authority over economic relations between the states “reflects a central concern of the Framers
that was an immediate reason for calling the Constitutional Convention: the conviction that in order to succeed, the new Union would have to avoid the tendencies toward economic Balkanization that had plagued relations among the Colonies and later among the States under the Articles of Confederation.” (See https://ecf.casd.uscourts.gov/doc1/037118727999)
Simply put, the commerce clause prevents individual states from enacting and enforcing laws that screw up how business is done when goods move throughout the United States. This is why trucks can travel from state to state and not have to transload at the border of every individual state. And the thrust of the argument here is that AB5 and its “ABC” Test violates the commerce clause. I will again quote from OOIDA’s motion:
“…AB-5 will impact interstate trucking operations nationwide, causing carriers throughout the U.S. to reevaluate their ability to serve the country’s most important shipping market. Thousands of trucking companies will be forced to decide between changing their business model or ceasing work in California altogether. The harm resulting from these decisions will be irreparable for many and will have a negative impact on supply chains. Enjoining enforcement of AB-5 against those truckers lacking a significant connection to California pending final resolution of this case is a crucial step in safeguarding the nation’s supply chain and the livelihoods of thousands of small business truckers.” (Id.)
Let’s hope OOIDA succeeds where the CTA failed.
Reprinted with permission by the Law Offices of G. Spencer Mynko, ESQ., Transportation Attorneys