Circuit Lifts Injunction Facing SF Trucker Law

     (CN) – San Francisco can make tow-truck drivers get permits to work within the city, the 9th Circuit ruled Monday, canceling a lower court’s injunction.
     The federal appeals panel found that it had to examine the permit program as a whole when weighing a request from the California Tow Truck Association’s (CTTA) to block several provisions.
     Truck advocates argued, among other things, that the program’s high fees harmed its members, duplicated state-level regulations and violated of the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause.
     U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer enjoined enforcement of permit laws against trucks doing “consensual” towing, and against tow truck drivers simply “passing through” San Francisco. On cross-appeals to the 9th Circuit, the court found that Breyer had considered the issue improperly.
     “Because the CTTA challenges the permit system as a whole, the District Court is required to analyze the major provisions identified by the CTTA and address whether the permit system can survive, after severing provisions, if any, that are preempted (or not saved from preemption by a statutory exception),” according to the opinion authored by U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright who sat on the three-judge appellate panel by designation from the District of Hawaii. “It may be that the permit system’s essential requirement to obtain permits can be justified based on San Francisco’s ‘safety regulatory authority.’ But here the permit system as a whole – with its components, conditions, and burdens – was upheld in part and invalidated in part without analyzing those key provisions.” (Parentheses in original.)
     The Northern District of California also lacks standing to rule on the legality of the permit system for trucks passing through the city, because the claim in not ripe, Seabright wrote.
     “The undisputed evidence establishes that San Francisco does not require tow truck drivers and tow firms to obtain a permit just to pass through San Francisco,” the 34-page decision states.

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