Tuesday, March 25, 2008
As expected, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals struck down New York State's Airline Passenger Bill of Rights Act. In a unanimous decision, the court found the act expressly preempted by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. Also of concern to the court was the potential of giving free reign to state regulation of the airline industry. "If New York's view regarding the scope of regularity authority carried the day," so the court observed, "another state could be free to enact a law prohibiting the service of soda on flights departing from its airports, while another could require allergen-free food options on all outbound flights, unraveling the centralized federal framework for air travel." The court was not unsympathetic to the aims of the New York statute: "Although the goals of the [statute] are laudable and circumstances motivating its enactment deplorable, only the federal government has the authority to enact such a law."
It remains to be seen what the next course of action may be on the part of New York State or consumer advocacy groups. News outlets are already reporting that New York State attorney Andrew M. Cuomo is contemplating an appeal to the Supreme Court. So far there is no word on what, if any, action federal legislators may attempt to take.