Columbus v. Ours Garage & Wrecker Service, Inc., 536 U.S. 424, 9 (2002)

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Opinion of the Court

emption encompasses municipal regulations. Compare Petrey, 246 F. 3d 548; Stucky v. San Antonio, 260 F. 3d 424 (CA5 2001); Tocher v. Santa Ana, 219 F. 3d 1040, 1051 (CA9 2000); and R. Mayer of Atlanta, Inc. v. Atlanta, 158 F. 3d 538 (CA11 1998) (all holding that local safety and insurance regulations are preempted), with Ace Auto Body & Towing, Ltd. v. New York, 171 F. 3d 765 (CA2 1999) (holding that local safety and insurance regulations are not preempted). We granted certiorari to resolve the conflict, see 534 U. S. 1073 (2002), and now reverse the Sixth Circuit's judgment.


We begin our consideration of the question presented with an observation that is beyond genuine debate. Had 49 U. S. C. 14501(c) contained no reference at all to "political subdivision[s] of a State," the preemption provision's exception for exercises of the "safety regulatory authority of a State," 14501(c)(2)(A), undoubtedly would have embraced both state and local regulation. Accord, post, at 445 (Scalia, J., dissenting). The Court's decision in Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier, 501 U. S. 597 (1991), would have been definitive. There the Court considered a provision of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act authorizing a "State [to] regulate the sale or use of any federally registered pesticide or device in the State," 7 U. S. C. 136v(a); the provision was "silent with reference to local governments." 501 U. S., at 607. "Mere silence," we held, "cannot suffice to establish a clear and manifest purpose to pre-empt local authority." Ibid. (internal quotation marks omitted).

As Justice White stated for the Court in Mortier, "[w]hen considering pre-emption, 'we start with the assumption that the historic police powers of the States were not to be superseded by the Federal Act unless that was the clear and manifest purpose of Congress.' " Id., at 605 (quoting Rice v.

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