Oneok, Inc. v. LearJet, Inc.

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Preemption
  • Date Filed: April 21, 2015
  • Case #: 13-271
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Breyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Kennedy, Ginsburg, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined, and in which Thomas, J., joined as to all but Part I-A. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in judgment. Scalia, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Roberts, C.J., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Natural Gas Act does not pre-empt state antitrust laws regulating natural gas rates.

Respondents are organizations and institutions that purchase natural gas from pipelines. Respondents sued Petitioners, claiming that Petitioners' pipelines were in violation of state antitrust laws and that Petitioners' were reporting false information to manipulate wholesale (i.e. interstate commerce) and retail (i.e. interstate commerce) natural-gas prices. The District Court granted Petitioners’ motion for summary judgment, finding that Respondents' claims were pre-empted by the Natural Gas Act (NGA). The NGA gave the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) the ability to determine the reasonableness of wholesale natural gas rates. The Ninth Circuit reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the NGA does not pre-empt Respondents' state antitrust claims for inflated retail prices, even where the retail prices are affected by wholesale prices. The Court reasoned that the NGA was created with a regard for state power and not meant to preempt state antitrust laws. Additionally, there has not been a FERC decision indicating that its regulatory authority pre-empts the state antitrust claims at issue.

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