U.S. Supreme Court: "We Don't Need No Stinkin' American Truckers, Open up the Floodgates To Mexican Trucks"
By Martin Hill
January 14, 2014


LATEST: Despite the fact that the American government continuously passes laws and enforces abusive practices under the guise of "keeping us safe," the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a plea from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) to review the program allowing Mexican trucks onto the roads of America. Under the program, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allows special accommodations to Mexican-based trucks and drivers, allowing them to comply with Mexican laws regarding commercial trucks, licensing and safety requirements rather than American laws. Meanwhile, U.S. regulators continue to clamp down passing increasingly restrictive rules on American trucking companies and drivers, which have reportedly caused a decrease in income and productivity. Last November, FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro, who has been highly criticized by many in the trucking industry, described a "smack in the face" & "much clearer view" after she took up a challenge to ride in an actual big rig for two days.

In March 2011 President Barack Obama and Mexican president Felipe Calderon signed an agreement allowing Mexican trucks to deliver their load to its final destination, instead of transfering the freight to an American carrier soon after crossing the border. In exchange, Mexico eliminated tariffs on American goods which it had imposed in 2009 in protest of that policy.

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety [saferoads.org], the Teamsters Union, and Sierra Club joined the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in opposing the program.

A May 2013 press release from the Teamsters union clearly summarized the core issue: U.S. DOT Allowing Unsafe Mexico-Domiciled Truck Companies to Participate in NAFTA Pilot Program Threatening Safety of Motorists [Excerpt:]
"U.S. DOT Must Take Swift Action to Prevent Unsafe Motor Carriers from Crossing the Border: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) charged with overseeing the cross-border long-haul Pilot Program on North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Trucking Provisions, has not taken definitive action to bar participation of unsafe Mexico-domiciled motor carriers. The Pilot Program was created to test and demonstrate the ability of Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate safely in the U.S. beyond the municipalities on the U.S.-Mexico international border or the commercial zones of such municipalities.

....Joan Claybrook, Consumer Co-Chair of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said, "Zaro Transportation has a driver fitness BASIC score that is a disaster at 99.4% (100% being the worst score) and nearly as dismal a vehicle maintenance BASIC score of 95.7%. Auto Transportes Zaros SA de CV, likewise has an unheard of 99.4% driver fitness score, and an even lower vehicle maintenance BASIC score of 99.5%. The FMCSA should be using every tool available to protect motorists, not further endanger them by allowing treacherously unsafe Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to participate in the NAFTA Pilot Program."

James Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said, "We’ve said all along that our concern about this program was ensuring that Mexican trucks and drivers meet our U.S. safety standards, and it’s clear that FMCSA has not been exercising the proper oversight to accomplish this goal. It’s wrong and inexcusable to endanger the traveling public in this way."

"It’s blatantly clear that the only entities truly pushing for opening the border are big businesses in the United States seeking to force small business truckers to forfeit their own economic opportunities. FMCSA’s actions show that they are following an agenda for large economic interests and are determined to accept a significantly lower standard for trucks from Mexico than what they apply to those in the U.S. This altogether means compromised highway safety and loss of U.S. jobs," said Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association." [See also Dangerous Mexican trucks allowed in pilot program; Teamsters object 5/15/13]

The OOIDA's DOT Cross Border Trucking Program - Case Summary explains, "On June 3, 2013, OOIDA asked the US Court of Appeals to grant a rehearing regarding the issue of whether commercial drivers licenses in Mexico should be accepted as equivalent to those issued in the United States. OOIDA would like a panel hearing or rehearing en banc. The Association contends that trucking companies based in Mexico cannot comply with U.S. regulations and should not have full access to U.S. highways."

The OOIDA's Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed on 10/24/2013 outlines how the government's involvement with the NAFTA treaty is in conflict with U.S. laws regardng commercial driver compliance and license, medical, and safety requirements. The document stated, in part,
"OOIDA challenges the authority of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") to conduct a "pilot program" allowing Mexico-domiciled trucking companies to operate trucks throughout the United States driven by individuals who do not hold valid commercial drivers licenses ("CDL’s") issued under federal standards... On December 17, 1992, the leaders of the United States of America, Canada, and the United Mexican States gathered to sign the North American Free Trade Agreement ("NAFTA"), an agreement regulating trade in goods and services. North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S.-Can.-Mex., Dec. 17, 1992, 32 I.L.M. 289 (1993). On November 20, 1993, Congress officially approved the NAFTA agreement. The legislation implementing NAFTA specifically provides: "nothing in this Act shall be construed – (A) to amend or modify any law of the United States, including any law regarding . . . (iii) motor carriers or workers safety. . . ." North American Free Trade Implementation Act, Pub. L. No. 103-182, Title I, § 102(a)(2)(A)(iii), 107 Stat. 2057 (1993).

The United States has undertaken no obligation under NAFTA to provide exemptions or waivers from the application of U.S. trucking laws or regulations to Mexico-domiciled motor carriers except insofar as such exemptions or waivers may also be available to U.S.-domiciled motor carriers...

..Petitioner here and other interested parties challenged FMCSA’s 2007 Demonstration Project in court. Congress, however, cut off funding for the project and, as a result, the suit was dismissed as moot. SierraClub v. Dep’t of Transp., 563 F.3d 897, 898 (9th Cir.2009.)

On April 13, 2011, FMCSA published a Notice and Request for Comments in anticipation of launching a pilot program to test the efficacy of issuing operating authority to Mexico-domiciled motor carriers to operate beyond the commercial zones on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico... The April 2011 Notice disclosed that FMCSA would accept compliance with specific Mexican rules governing drug testing, medical qualifications and commercial driver’s licenses in lieu of compliance with corresponding U.S. statutes and regulations. Fed. Reg. at 20814-16....The pilot program implements FMCSA’s proposal to provide special accommodations to Mexico-domiciled motor carriers and drivers by permitting them to comply with Mexican laws and regulations governing commercial driver’s licenses, driver’s medical qualifications and drug testing rather than to comply with several U.S. statutes and regulations....FMCSA, relying on the 1991 MOU with Mexico, decided to allow Mexican drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles under Licencia Federal de Conductor (LF) issued by Mexico rather than a CDL meeting the requirement of U.S. statutes and regulations. App. 59-61. In this case, the terms of 49 U.S.C. § 31302, the later enacted statute, are clear and unambiguous: "No individual shall operate a commercial motor vehicle without a valid commercial driver’s license issued in accordance with [49 U.S.C.] Section 31308." "The language of the statute is entirely clear, and if it is not what Congress meant then Congress has made a mistake and Congress will have to correct it." Conroy v. Aniskoff, 507 U.S. 511, 528 (1993) (Scalia, J., concurring in the judgment).

The OOIDA argument concluded, in part,
"The Court Of Appeals Decision Upsets The Equilibrium Between Congress And The Executive Branch Under The Supremacy Clause:
The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution provides that: "[t]his Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land." U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2. It is well-settled that the Supremacy Clause places treaties and statutes on equal footing, which is why courts have always evaluated conflicts between statutes and treaties using the last-in-time rule. See Chew Heong v. United States, 112 U.S. 536, 549-50 (1884); S. African Airways v. Dole, 817 F.2d 119, 126 (D.C. Cir. 1987). As this Court explained: "The Constitution gives [a treaty] no superiority over an act of Congress in this respect, which may be repealed or modified by an act of a later date." Edye v. Robertson, 112 U.S. 580, 599 (1884)..

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Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register, KNBC4 TV Los Angeles, The Press Enterprise, LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened.com, Infowars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, Economic Policy Journal, FreedomsPhoenix, Haaretz, TMZ, Veterans Today, Jonathan Turley blog, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, National Motorists Association, AmericanFreePress.net, RomanCatholicReport.com, WorldNetDaily, OverdriveOnline.com, Educate-Yourself.org, TexeMarrs.com, Dr. Kevin Barrett's Truth Jihad radio show, Strike-The-Root.com, Pasadena Weekly, ActivistPost.com, Los Angeles Catholic Lay Mission Newspaper, KFI AM 640, IamtheWitness.com, Redlands Daily Facts, BlackBoxVoting, The Michael Badnarik Show, The Wayne Madsen Report, Devvy.com, Rense.com, The Contra Costa Times, Pasadena Star News, Silicon Valley Mercury News, Long Beach Press Telegram, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, L.A. Harbor Daily Breeze, CopBlock.org, DavidIcke.com, Whittier Daily News, KCLA FM Hollywood, The Fullerton Observer, Antiwar.com, From The Trenches World Report, and many others. Archives can be found at LibertyFight.com and DontWakeMeUp.Org.

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