A federal pilot program to allow Mexican trucks to operate on U.S. highways was upheld in the D.C. Circuit on Friday, denying appeals by both the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
In two consolidated cases, the D.C. Circuit Court found that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) pilot program which allowed Mexican trucks to operate in the U.S. was not in violation of parallel federal laws, but did find that the two petitioning organizations had standing to challenge it.
Standing, Sweet Standing
The increasingly sticky wicket of Article III standing was actually not a problem for the Teamsters or Independent Drivers, unlike other recent Article III petitioners, because the organizations actually had three different claims of standing:
- Competitor standing: Allows individuals who would be at a cognizable detriment (i.e., profits) via competition to challenge a law creating that competition. Here the U.S. truckers would face increased competition from Mexican truckers if the pilot program is allowed.
- Zone of interest standing: A very loose test which allows standing where a law would encroach on cognizable interests of the petitioner, in this case being the economic wellbeing of the U.S. truckers.
- Organizational standing: Builds off of the other two and allows standing where an organization's member has standing and the challenge is germane to the organization's purpose, which fits the bill for both the Teamsters and the Independent Drivers.
The Merits (Condensed)
So the truckers and teamsters have standing, but they then proceed to spew nearly a baker's dozen-worth of ways in which the pilot program to allow Mexican truckers is in violation of federal law, most of which could be dismissed based on reading the factual record.
Here are three of the juicier challenges:
1) Mexican Driver's Licenses
Under federal law, you cannot operate a commercial motor vehicle without a compliant commercial driver's license.
The Independent Drivers assert that the pilot program would allow Mexican truckers to operate on U.S. highways with only a Mexican license, which they claim is not within the ambit of the law.
The D.C. Circuit Court disagreed, citing two examples of laws where commercial trucking licenses from Mexico were considered compliant for federal law, including Section 6901 (b)(2)(B)(V) of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007.
2) No Import Decal Required
The Teamsters asserted that Mexican trucks entering the U.S. would not be required under the pilot program to have an import decal sticker, as required by federal law for trucks entering into "interstate commerce."
While it's an interesting argument about what entering into interstate commerce means, the D.C. Circuit Court defers to the FMCSA and DOT because the federal statute isn't clear.
3) Mexican Eye Tests
Although it sounds like the setup for a joke, Teamsters allege that Mexican eye testing procedures only test if their truckers can see red as opposed to the more comprehensive U.S. color test, so the Mexican truckers would not comply with U.S. safety standards.
However, the D.C. Circuit decided this issue with the Teamsters before and determined that Mexican standards don't have to be identical to American standards.
The U.S. trucking interest groups failed to convince the court that allowing Mexican truckers would upset a whole bucket full of related federal laws, but they had standing, and that's something.
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