A Victory for States’ Rights

U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo ruled last week that US Airways requires a liquor license from the state of New Mexico to serve alcohol in planes flying over the state or landing in it, drawing heavily on the 21st Amendment. The state had denied US Air a liquor license after it had repeatedly landed intoxicated people in the state. In one case, a passenger on US Air landed in Albuquerque and drove the wrong way on the highway, killing 6 people and himself. The airline sued the state, claiming federal law prevailed over state law in this case. In particular the airline argued that the Airline Deregulation Act and the Federal Aviation Act preempt New Mexico laws requiring everybody selling alcohol to have a license. Judge disagreed, writing:

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