Supreme Court decision on AB 5 remains on hold

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trucking in California

The Supreme Court did not include the California Trucking Association’s challenge to California’s AB 5 independent contractor law in its latest Order List issued Monday, signifying that the Court will not decide whether it will hear the case until at least October.

The Court’s summer recess is scheduled to begin this week, and the Justices are not scheduled to return until October.

CTA’s case was distributed for the Court’s June 23 Conference Day, but it appears the Justices did not make a decision on whether to hear the case.

Greg Feary, president of transportation legal firm Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, said while it’s “not for certain,” the most likely outcome is that SCOTUS will not release a decision on certiorari until Oct. 7 or later when the Court returns from its summer recess. Feary added that it’s also possible that the Court could be waiting for a dissenting opinion to be finalized before issuing its ruling.

Feary noted that another case involving federal preemption, but for the airline industry -- Bernstein v. Virgin America -- was also noticeably absent from Monday’s Order List, which could be an indication that the two cases might be combined.

California’s AB 5 is currently on hold for the trucking industry pending the outcome of this case. If enforced for trucking, the law would effectively ban the traditional leased owner-operator model in the state. CTA’s case claims that AB 5 is preempted by the 1994 Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA or F4A), which bars states from enacting laws that interfere with “routes, prices and services” of motor carriers.

In May, the Solicitor General filed a brief on behalf of the U.S. government recommending that SCOTUS deny hearing the case. CTA responded to the government’s brief, calling its claims “head-scratchingly wrong.”