Well this case went out with a whimper. After being remanded to the district court by the 10th Circuit and having a trial date set for this April, the parties in the US Airways lawsuit against New Mexico dismissed this case without prejudice. Recall this case was challenge by US Airways to the propriety of New Mexico alcohol licensing powers. The Joint Stipulation of Dismissal Without Prejudice can be accessed here.
I feel very confident that the legal issues raised in this litigation will reappear in another case in the future.
(earlier post) 10th Circuit Reverses and Remands US Airways Case Back To District Court
The 10th Circuit today reversed and remanded the district court’s decision which had ruled in favor of New Mexico. When the district court gets this case again, it is instructed to balance both the state interests under the 21st Amendment and the federal interests under the Federal Aviation Act. It is unclear if any party will try to appeal this to Supreme Court at this stage. The 10th Circuit opinion can be found here.
Oral Argument Set for September 20th in the 10th Circuit Appeal of USAIR Case
The oral argument of US Air’s appeal is set for September 20th in Denver before the 10th Circuit. In a twist, the US Government has pushed to be allowed to participate in the oral argument and has been granted time. The motion the federal government filed to participate in oral argument is here.
Appellate Briefs have been filed in the 10th Circuit. Retailers, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, State AGs, US Justice Dept, three of the past U.S. Solicitor Generals representing corporate interests , the list is long!
The state of New Mexico appellate brief is here.
The State AGs brief notes that the position of the USAir and appellants that they do not need to follow New Mexico alcohol laws would also support the amazing position that US Air could serve drinks to 11 year olds.
(The below was written after the trial stage and before 10th Circuit filings)
If you sell liquor to consumers in New Mexico, you need to be licensed by the state to do so. Period.
United States District Judge M. Christinia Armijo has rejected US Airways claims that federal aviation statutes and regulations (specifically the Airline Deregulation Act and the Federal Aviation Act) preempt New Mexico laws requiring every person selling alcohol to secure a public service license. In her decision Jude Armijo noted there was no basis to assume Congress intended federal law to regulate alcohol service and that state laws are not preempted. She noted:
Needless to say, the stakes are pretty high with this case and I personally expect an appeal by the Plaintiff in this case. New Mexico is in the 10th Circuit.
This case further provides a strong rejection to the attempts to allow revisionist history to claim that the 21st Amendment essentially only allows a state to decide wet or dry issues. The complaint implied that the 21st Amendment allows a state “ONLY” to regulate the transportation or importation. That very limited view of the 21st Amendment will not prevail.
Briefs have been filed in this case.