Livadas v. Bradshaw, 512 U.S. 107, 14 (1994)

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Opinion of the Court

e. g., Brief for Respondent 17. But such reasoning mistakes a standard for validity under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses for what the Supremacy Clause requires. The power to tax is no less the power to destroy, McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316 (1819), merely because a state legislature has an undoubtedly rational and "legitimate" interest in raising revenue. In labor pre-emption cases, as in others under the Supremacy Clause, our office is not to pass judgment on the reasonableness of state policy, see, e. g., Golden State I, 475 U. S. 608 (1986) (city's desire to remain "neutral" in labor dispute does not determine pre-emption). It is instead to decide if a state rule conflicts with or otherwise "stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives" of the federal law. Brown v. Hotel Employees, 468 U. S. 491, 501 (1984) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).14

That is not to say, of course, that the several rationales for the policy urged on the Court by the Commissioner and amici are beside the point here. If, most obviously, the Commissioner's policy were actually compelled by federal law, as she argues it is, we could hardly say that it was, simultaneously, pre-empted; at the least, our task would then be one of harmonizing statutory law. But we entertain this and other justifications claimed, not because constitutional analysis under the Supremacy Clause is an open-ended balancing act, simply weighing the federal interest against the intensity of local feeling, see id., at 503, but because claims of justification can sometimes help us to discern congressional purpose, the "ultimate touchstone" of our enquiry. Malone

14 Similarly, because our analysis here turns not on the "rationality" of the governmental classification, but rather on its effect on federal objectives, the Commissioner's policy is not saved merely because it happens, at the margins, to be "under-" and "over-inclusive," i. e., burdening certain employees who are not protected by the NLRA and allowing employees covered by highly unusual collective-bargaining agreements the benefit of enforcement of 201 and 203 claims.

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