Columbus v. Ours Garage & Wrecker Service, Inc., 536 U.S. 424, 12 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 424 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

ing of 14501(c)(1): It provides that preemption "shall not affect any authority of a State, political subdivision of a State, or political authority of 2 or more States to enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision" in those areas.

The safety exception of 14501(c)(2)(A), however, does not borrow language from 14501(c)(1). It simply states that preemption "shall not restrict the safety regulatory authority of a State." Notably, the second statutory exception, on which respondents train no attention, is stated with similar economy. That exception mentions neither States nor political subdivisions; it simply says that the general preemption rule, 14501(c)(1), "does not apply to the transportation of household goods," 14501(c)(2)(B). Yet it is abundantly clear that, notwithstanding this difference in verbal formulation, 14501(c)(2)(B), like its neighbor 14501(c)(2)(C), permits both state and local regulation. Accord, post, at 446 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

The inclusion of the phrase "the authority of a State or a political subdivision of a State to enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision" no doubt synchronizes the nonconsensual towing provision with 14501(c)(1)'s main rule. The parallel structure of 14501(c)(1) and 14501(c)(2)(C) does not imply, however, that 14501(c)(2)(A)'s concise statement must be read to use the term "State" restrictively. Respondents' inference from the absence of "political subdivision of a State" in 14501(c)(2)(A) would be more persuasive if the omission were the sole difference in the expression of the general rule and the safety exception. In contrast to 14501(c)(2)(C) and (c)(3), however, neither the safety exception nor the household-goods exception refers to the "authority . . . to enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision." 2 The Russello presump-2 The dissent insists that 14501(c)(2)(B) is irrelevant because its phrasing "ha[s] nothing to do with the issue of separating state and local authority." Post, at 446 (emphasis deleted). We ultimately draw the same conclusion, of course, regarding the phrasing of the safety exception in


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