RESPONDENT:Isla Petroleum Corporation
LOCATION:Hustler Magazine Headquarters
DOCKET NO.: 86-1406
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
CITATION: 485 US 495 (1988)
ARGUED: Feb 29, 1988
DECIDED: Apr 19, 1988
Media for Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs v. Isla Petroleum Corporation
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – April 19, 1988 in Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs v. Isla Petroleum Corporation
William H. Rehnquist:
The opinion of the Court in No. 86-1406, Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs versus Isla Petroleum Corporation will be announced by Justice Scalia.
This case comes here by writ of certiorari to the Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals.
Petitioner the Puerto Rico Department of Consumer Affairs issued regulations in 1986 regarding the price of gasoline, which regulations were opposed by the respondents several oil companies.
The District Court enjoined enforcement of the regulations in part on the grounds that they were preempted by federal law and the Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals affirmed.
The test for federal preemptions of these regulations is the same as the test under the Supremacy Clause for preemptions of the law of the state.
Thus, we looked to the scope of the federal statute.
The Court below found preemptive force in the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973 as amended by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975.
That law, which is some of us recall was once the basis for federal controls on the pricing and allocation of petroleum products, effectively expired in 1981.
The Court below nonetheless found that it had continuing preemptive effect on the theory that Congress’ withdrawal from the fields signaled an intent to leave the market for petroleum products free of regulation by the states.
However, we ordinarily assume that the historic police power of the state are not superseded by a federal act unless that is a clear and manifest purpose of Congress.
There is no such clear purpose to be found in the mere expiration of the statute at issue much less in the legislative history of that statute.
Our decision in Transcontinental Pipe Line versus State Oil and Gas Board did not alter our established preemption analysis.
There is no federal preemption in vacuo without a constitutional text or a federal statute to assert it.
Our decision is unanimous except that Justice O’Connor took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.