Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 13 (1994)

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Cite as: 512 U. S. 107 (1994)

Opinion of the Court

on this logic, a policy of issuing general search warrants would be justified if it were adopted to implement a state statute codifying word-for-word the "good-faith" exception to the valid warrant requirement recognized in United States v. Leon, 468 U. S. 897 (1984). The relationship between policy and state statute and between the statute and federal law is, in any event, irrelevant. The question presented by this case is not whether Labor Code 229 is valid under the Federal Constitution or whether the Commissioner's policy is, as a matter of state law, a proper interpretation of 229. Pre-emption analysis, rather, turns on the actual content of respondent's policy and its real effect on federal rights. See Nash v. Florida Industrial Comm'n, 389 U. S. 235 (1967) (holding pre-empted an administrative policy interpreting presumably valid state unemployment insurance law exception for "labor disputes" to include proceedings under NLRB complaints); see also 987 F. 2d, at 561 (Kozinski, J., dissenting).13

Having sought to lead us to the wrong question, the Commissioner proposes the wrong approach for answering it, defending the distinction drawn in the challenged statutory interpretation, between employees represented by unions and those who are not, as supported by a "rational basis," see,

13 See also Rum Creek Coal Sales, Inc. v. Caperton, 971 F. 2d 1148, 1154 (CA4 1992) (State may not, consistently with the NLRA, withhold protections of state antitrespass law from employer involved in labor dispute, in an effort to apply a facially valid "neutrality statute"). Thus, while the "misinterpretation of a perfectly valid state statute . . . does not [in itself] provide grounds for federal relief," 987 F. 2d, at 559, it does not follow that no federal relief may be had when such misinterpretation results in conflict with federal law. Nor does the opportunity to seek redress in a nonfederal forum determine the existence of a federal right, see ibid. See, e. g., Monroe v. Pape, 365 U. S. 167, 183 (1961). Of course, the extent to which a course of conduct has deviated from "clearly established" federal law remains crucial to deciding whether an official will be entitled to immunity from individual damage liability, see, e. g., Davis v. Scherer, 468 U. S. 183, 197 (1984).


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