The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cholakis, District Judge.[fn*] [fn*] The transcript of this opinion, delivered from the bench, has been edited for grammatical construction, organization of quotations, and augmentation of citations.
It is my intention at this time to read a decision into the
record. I know that it may seem very unusual that a decision
will be read into the record on a matter that is as complex and
involved as this case obviously is. I do not want any of the
participants to think that their positions have not been given
due weight. We have spent an extraordinary amount of time on
this one case in the past two weeks. As a matter of fact, I
dare say we have spent as much time on this single case as we
have spent on any other three or four cases combined during the
last three or four years.
I do think, however, that in fairness to all the participants
that a decision be made as quickly as possible so those parties
involved can make a determination as to their future course of
action. And I do not feel that just letting this matter sit for
any length of time will do justice to the parties or to the Act
itself. I have listened to all of the arguments presented by
all of the attorneys, and I think I have given you relatively
free reign because I was waiting to see if anyone could say
anything that would change the feeling that the Court had about
this subject after reading all of the papers, and as you know,
the papers were voluminous. As a matter of fact, if I could
sell them by the pound, I think I'd be in very good shape.
The plaintiffs State of New York and the Counties of
Allegheny and Cortland challenge the constitutionality of the
Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985, 42
U.S.Code Sections 2021b et seq., on the grounds that the Act
violates the Tenth and Eleventh Amendments as well as the
Guaranty Clause and Due Process Clause of the United States
Before the Court are numerous motions and cross-motions. At
this juncture all parties have moved for summary judgment, and
there appear to be no issues of material fact, and the case
therefore appears ready for summary treatment by the Court.
The United States in its motions to dismiss and for summary
judgment relies principally on the Supreme Court case of
Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority,
469 U.S. 528, 105 S.Ct. 1005, 83 L.Ed.2d 1016 (1985). This case calls
into question the judiciary's ability and authority to consider
challenges to Congressional power over the States. Garcia
overturned National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U.S. 833, 96
S.Ct. 2465, 49 L.Ed.2d 245 (1976), in which the Supreme Court
proclaimed that the Tenth Amendment limited Congressional power
to legislate under the Commerce Clause. The Court concluded in
National League that the Tenth Amendment sheltered "the states'
freedom to structure integral operations in areas of
traditional governmental functions". Accordingly, Congress
could not displace the states' freedom by regulating "the
states as states" and limiting the attributes of state
sovereignty. Id. 469 U.S. at 552-554, 105 S.Ct. at 1018-1019.
In Garcia, a sharply divided Court rejected National League,
Garcia, 469 U.S. at 552, 105 S.Ct. at 1018.
The Court in Garcia ruled that judicial review of
Congressional enactments founded on Commerce Clause powers
should be limited primarily to an inquiry of whether the
political process has failed. The Court did, however, indicate
that some additional limits might exist on Congressional action
based on "the constitutional structure". The Garcia court,
however, did not define or identify these limits apart from
citing without discussion the 1911 Supreme Court case of Coyle
v. Oklahoma, 221 U.S. 559, 31 S.Ct. 688, 55 L.Ed. 853.
The citing of the Coyle case is significant. The Coyle case
struck down a Congressional enactment which conditioned the
statehood of Oklahoma on the placement of the state capital at
a certain location. The Court acknowledged at page 565, 31
S.Ct. at 689, of that opinion that "the power to locate its own
seat of government was essentially and peculiarly [a] state
power". The holding in Coyle, however, is clearly based on the
finding that Oklahoma was being forced to do something which no
other state was being forced to do; that being to locate her
capital according to the wishes of Congress.
The Coyle Court stated in the last paragraph of its opinion
on page 580, 31 S.Ct. at 695, the following:
The constitutional equality of the states is
essential to the harmonious operation of the
scheme upon which the Republic was organized. When
that equality disappears, we may remain a free
people, but the Union will not be the Union of the
Therefore, this Court reads Garcia as allowing judicial
interdiction of federal powers over the states in the following
areas: One, when that power is the result of a defect in the
political process, and two, possibly when constitutional
equality among the states has been jeopardized.
Garcia and the 1988 Supreme Court decision South Carolina v.
Baker, 485 U.S. 505, 108 S.Ct. 1355, 99 L.Ed.2d 592 (1988),
foreclose, in this Court's view, judicial review of any
Congressional action over the states which is validly enacted
and equally applied to all states. Any review of the
substantive merits of such an action apart from an inquiry into
the "constitutional equality" of the action would require a
judicially determined ...