AOPA on Tuesday asked a federal judge in Michigan to issue a summary judgment in the association's lawsuit against the state's pilot background check law.
"The state of Michigan does not dispute the facts of this case," said AOPA Counsel Kathy Yodice. "All that remains is for the court to decide whether or not, as AOPA contends, federal law preempts the state's background check law under the U.S Constitution's Supremacy Clause (Article VI, clause 2). Today's motion asks the judge to proceed straight to his ruling."
In its filing, AOPA argues that the Michigan law is preempted both because of the pervasiveness of federal regulation in aviation safety and security matters as well as setting pilot eligibility standards, and because the state law conflicts with federal efforts to create a uniform national standard.
Citing numerous sections of the U.S. Code, AOPA argues, "Congress clearly mandated that the FAA consider national security in carrying out its functions, creating a 'culture' of security consideration. Many of the safety functions of the FAA inherently contain an element of aviation security and national security. Thus, there is a general scheme placing the responsibility for aviation security regulation, for the purposes of national security and safety, in the federal government's exclusive domain.
"The FAA is no longer the only agency responsible for aviation security. Congress vested sweeping authority over security in the TSA.
"Together with the explicit and vast law of Congress governing aviation security, the TSA's and the FAA's exercise of their security powers occupy the field of aviation security. Thus, states have no room to maneuver in that field."
AOPA's motion concludes, "To date, the intent of the United States Congress and the authority conferred on the U.S. Government Agencies remains manifest that aviation security is exclusively a federal government responsibility, so that a uniform, appropriate system can be maintained nationwide.... For all of the reasons presented to this Court, AOPA respectfully requests that this Court grant the attached Motion for Summary Judgment."