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No. 98-1464


In the Supreme Court of the United States
OCTOBER TERM, 1998

JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE
UNITED STATES, ET AL., PETITIONERS

v.

CHARLIE CONDON, ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE
STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, ET AL.

ON PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI
TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT

PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI

SETH P. WAXMAN
Solicitor General
Counsel of Record
DAVID W. OGDEN
Acting Assistant Attorney General
EDWIN S. KNEEDLER
Deputy Solicitor General
PAUL R.Q. WOLFSON
Assistant to the Solicitor
General
MARK B. STERN
ALISA B. KLEIN
DANIEL L. KAPLAN
Attorneys
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
(202) 514-2217

QUESTION PRESENTED
Whether the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994, 18 U.S.C. 2721-2725, contravenes constitutional principles of federalism.

PARTIES TO THE PROCEEDING
Petitioners are the Attorney General of the United States and the United States of America.
Respondents are the Attorney General for the State of South Carolina, the State of South Carolina, the South Carolina Press Association, the Virginia Press Association, the West Virginia Press Association, the Maryland/Delaware/District of Columbia Press Association, the Newspaper Association of America, and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.







In the Supreme Court of the United States
OCTOBER TERM, 1998

No. 98-1464
JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE
UNITED STATES, ET AL., PETITIONERS

v.

CHARLIE CONDON, ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE
STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, ET AL.

ON PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI
TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT

PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI

The Solicitor General, on behalf of the Attorney General of the United States and the United States, respectfully petitions for a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in this case.
OPINIONS BELOW
The opinion of the court of appeals (App., infra, 1a-37a) is reported at 155 F.3d 453. The opinion of the district court (App., infra, 38a-72a) is reported at 972 F. Supp. 977.
JURISDICTION
The judgment of the court of appeals was entered on September 3, 1998. A petition for rehearing was denied on December 22, 1998. App., infra, 73a-74a. The jurisdiction of this Court is invoked under 28 U.S.C. 1254(1).
CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY PROVISIONS INVOLVED
1. The Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 3, provides: "The Congress shall have Power * * * To regulate Commerce * * * among the several States."
2. The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
3. The Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994, 18 U.S.C. 2721-2725, is reprinted in an appendix to this petition (App., infra, 75a-81a).
STATEMENT
1. This case involves a constitutional challenge brought by the State of South Carolina to the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. 2721-2725, which restricts disclosure of personal information from state motor vehicle records.1 An individual who seeks a driver's license from his State's department of motor vehicles (DMV) is generally required to give the state agency a range of personal information, including the driver's name, address, telephone number, and in some cases medical information that may bear on the driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle. In some States, the DMV also requires a driver to provide his social security number and takes a photograph of the driver. State DMVs, in turn, routinely sell this personal information to individuals and businesses.2 Although DMVs generally charge only a small fee for each particular sale of information, aggregate revenues are substantial. For example, New York's motor vehicle department earned $17 million in one year from individuals and businesses that used the State's computers to examine driver's license records. See 1994 WL 212813 (Feb. 3, 1994) (statement of Janlori Goldman, American Civil Liberties Union).
The personal information sold by DMVs is also used extensively to support the marketing efforts of corporations and database compilers. See 1994 WL 212836 (Feb. 3, 1994) (statement of Richard A. Barton, Direct Marketing Association) ("The names and addresses of vehicle owners, in combination with information about the vehicles they own, are absolutely essential to the marketing efforts of the nation's automotive industry."). This information "is combined with information from other sources and used to create lists for selective marketing use by businesses, charities, and political candidates." Ibid. See also 1994 WL 212834 (Feb. 3, 1994) (statement of Dr. Mary J. Culnan, Georgetown University) (describing use of DMV information by direct marketers).
The highly publicized 1989 murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer brought to light the potential threat to privacy and safety posed by this commerce in motor vehicle record information. Schaeffer had taken pains to ensure that her address and phone number were not publicly listed. Despite those precautions, a stalker was able to track her down by obtaining her home address through her state motor vehicle records. See 140 Cong. Rec. H2522 (daily ed. Apr. 20, 1994) (statement of Rep. Moran). Evidence gathered by Congress revealed that that incident was similar to many other crimes in which stalkers, robbers, and assailants had used state motor vehicle records to locate, threaten, and harm victims.3
Moreover, Congress received evidence indicating that a national solution was warranted to address the problem of potentially dangerous disclosures of personal information in motor vehicle records. Marshall Rickert, Motor Vehicle Administrator for the State of Maryland, who testified in support of the legislation on behalf of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, emphasized that technological advances had dramatically increased the accessibility of state motor vehicle records, but that "many state laws have not kept pace with technological advancements, and permit virtually unlimited public access to driver and motor vehicle records." 1994 WL 212696 (Feb. 4, 1994). Accordingly, he urged that "uniform national standards are needed." Ibid. In addition, among the incidents brought to Congress's attention were ones in which stalkers had followed their victims across state lines. See 1994 WL 212822 (Feb. 3, 1994) (statement of David Beatty, National Victim Center).
2. Based on evidence about threats to individuals' privacy and safety from misuse of personal information in state motor vehicle records, Congress enacted the DPPA to restrict the disclosure of personal information in such records without the consent of the individual to whom the information pertains. The DPPA does not require any affirmative act by state motor vehicle agencies.4 Rather, it simply prohibits any state DMV, or officer or employee thereof, from "knowingly disclos[ing] or otherwise mak[ing] available to any person or entity personal information about any individual obtained by the department in connection with a motor vehicle record." 18 U.S.C. 2721(a).5 The DPPA defines "personal information" as any information "that identifies an individual, including an individual's photograph, social security number, driver identification number, name, address (but not the 5-digit zip code), telephone number, and medical or disability information," but not "information on vehicular accidents, driving violations, and driver's status." 18 U.S.C. 2725(3).
The DPPA bars only nonconsensual disclosures. Thus, DMVs may release personal information for any use, if they provide individuals with an opportunity to "opt-out" from disclosure when they receive or renew their licenses. See 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(11). In addition, a DMV may release personal information about an individual to a requester if the department obtains consent to the disclosure from the individual to whom the information pertains. See 18 U.S.C. 2721(d). A DMV also may disclose information about an individual if the requester has that individual's written consent. 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(13).
The DPPA explicitly disclaims any restriction on the use of motor vehicle information by "any government agency," including a court, and also "any private person or entity acting on behalf of a Federal, State, or local agency in carrying out its functions." 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(1). It also expressly permits DMVs to disclose personal information for any state-authorized purpose relating to the operation of a motor vehicle or public safety. 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(14).
The DPPA does not preclude States from disclosing personal information for other uses in which Congress found an important public interest. Thus, States may disclose personal information in their motor vehicle records for use in connection with car safety or theft, driver safety, and other motor-vehicle related matters, 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(2); by a business to verify the accuracy of personal information submitted to that business, and further to prevent fraud or to pursue legal remedies if the information the individual submitted to the business is revealed to have been inaccurate, 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(3); in connection with court, agency, or self-regulatory body proceedings, 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(4); for research purposes, if the personal information is not further disclosed or used to contact the individuals, 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(5); by insurers in connection with claims investigations, anti-fraud activities, rating, or underwriting, 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(6); to notify owners of towed or impounded vehicles, 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(7); by licensed private investigative agencies or security services for permitted purposes, 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(8); by employers to verify information relating to a holder of a commercial driver's license, 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(9); for use in connection with private tollways, 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(10); and in certain circumstances for bulk distribution for surveys, marketing, or solicitation, if individuals are provided an opportunity, "in a clear and conspicuous manner," to prohibit such use of information pertaining to them, 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(12).
The DPPA also regulates the resale and redisclosure of personal information obtained from state DMVs, 18 U.S.C. 2721(c), and prohibits any person from knowingly obtaining or disclosing any record for a use not permitted by the DPPA, or providing false information to a state agency to circumvent the DPPA's restrictions on disclosure, 18 U.S.C. 2722(a). The States have no obligation themselves to regulate the use of information obtained under the Act or to pursue legal remedies against any requester who obtains or uses information in violation of the Act.
Finally, the DPPA sets forth penalties and civil remedies for knowing violations of the Act. Any "person" (defined to exclude any State or state agency) who knowingly violates the DPPA may be subject to a criminal fine. 18 U.S.C. 2723(a), 2725(2). A state agency that maintains "a policy or practice of substantial noncompliance" with the DPPA may be subject to a civil penalty imposed by the Attorney General of not more than $5000 per day for each day of substantial noncompliance. 18 U.S.C. 2723(b). Any person who knowingly obtains, discloses, or uses information from a state motor vehicle record for a use not permitted by the DPPA may also be subject to liability in a civil action brought by the person to whom the information pertains. 18 U.S.C. 2724.
3. South Carolina law provides that the Motor Vehicle Division of the Department of Public Safety will release information contained in its motor vehicle records to anyone, provided that the requester fills out a form listing his name and address and stating that the information will not be used for telephone solicitation. S.C. Code Ann. §§ 56-3-510 to 56-3-540 (Law. Co-op. Supp. 1998). The Department of Public Safety is authorized to charge a fee for the release of requested information. Id. § 56-3-530. Accordingly, South Carolina law appears to permit disclosures for uses broader than those permitted by the DPPA.
South Carolina brought this action in federal district court, alleging that the DPPA exceeds Congress's constitutional powers, and seeking an injunction against enforcement of the DPPA. The district court granted summary judgment for the State and entered a permanent injunction against the Act's enforcement. App., infra, 39a-40a.
The district court ruled that this case was controlled by New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992), and Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997). The district court found the DPPA similar to the federal statutes invalidated in New York and Printz because, it believed, "[i]n enacting the DPPA, Congress has chosen not to assume responsibility directly for the dissemination and use of these motor vehicle records. Instead, Congress has commanded the States to implement federal policy by requiring them to regulate the dissemination and use of these records." App., infra, 53a.6
4. a. A divided panel of the court of appeals affirmed. App., infra, 1a-37a. The majority did not express doubt that disclosure and use of personal information held by state DMVs could be considered "commerce" within the scope of Congress's regulatory power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. U.S. Const. Art. I, § 8, Cl. 3. The court noted, however, that Congress "is constrained in the exercise of that [commerce] power by the Tenth Amendment. Thus, the question * * * is not whether the DPPA regulates commerce, but whether it is consistent with the system of dual sovereignty established by the Constitution." App., infra, 8a.
The majority acknowledged that "the DPPA is different in several respects from the statutes struck down in New York and Printz." App., infra, 14a. "Unlike the federal statute in New York, the DPPA does not commandeer the state legislative process. In particular, the DPPA does not require the States to enact legislation regulating the disclosure of personal information contained in their motor vehicle records." Ibid. Further, the court recognized that, unlike the statute invalidated in Printz, "the DPPA does not conscript state officers to enforce the regulations established by Congress. Indeed, the DPPA does not require that state officials report or arrest violators of the DPPA." Ibid. The court nonetheless concluded that "state officials must * * * administer the DPPA," and stated that New York and Printz had made "perfectly clear that the Federal Government may not require State officials to administer a federal regulatory program." Ibid. It rejected the government's contention that New York and Printz govern only the situation where the federal law in question "requires a State to regulate the behavior of its citizens." Id. at 15a.
Even on the assumption that the government's reading of New York and Printz was correct, however, and that the DPPA does not require the States to regulate the behavior of its citizens, the court still found the DPPA unconstitutional. The majority rejected the government's contention that the DPPA could be sustained under cases such as Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, 469 U.S. 528 (1985), which upheld federal regulation of activities of the States affecting commerce. It believed that Garcia established a broad limit on Congress's power to regulate state activity: "Under Garcia and its progeny, Congress may only 'subject state governments to generally applicable laws.'" App., infra, 15a (quoting New York, 505 U.S. at 160). Under the court's reading of Garcia, that decision did not govern this case because the DPPA by definition can apply only to state agencies:
[T]he DPPA exclusively regulates the disclosure of information contained in state motor vehicle records. Of course, there is no private counterpart to a state Department of Motor Vehicles. Private parties simply do not issue drivers' licenses or prohibit the use of unregistered motor vehicles. Thus, rather than enacting a law of general applicability that incidentally applies to the States, Congress enacted a law that, for all intents and purposes, applies only to the States.
App., infra, 17a.
The panel recognized that other federal statutes prevent private parties from disclosing personal information in various circumstances. App., infra, 18a. It regarded that point as irrelevant, however, because, even though Congress had regulated similar activity by private citizens in other federal statutes, it had not regulated private citizens' use and disclosure of personal information in the DPPA itself:
Under Garcia, a statute is constitutional only if it is generally applicable. A law is not generally applicable simply because it could be generally applicable. That Congress could subject private parties to the same type of regulation is irrelevant to the Tenth Amendment. Congress may invade the sovereignty of the States only when it actually enacts a law of general applicability. Nothing short of that will pass constitutional muster.
Ibid.7
b. Judge Phillips dissented. He concluded that the Commerce Clause provides a sufficient constitutional basis for Congress's authority to enact the DPPA. App., infra, 27a-37a. Judge Phillips stressed that "the end object of the [DPPA] is the direct regulation of state conduct[,] * * * not the indirect regulation of private conduct * * * by forcing the states directly to regulate that conduct." Id. at 29a. He concluded this "direct regulation of State activity * * * distinguishes the DPPA, in the most fundamental of ways, from the federal legislation struck down respectively in New York and Printz." Id. at 30a.
Judge Phillips also contested the majority's reading of Garcia as limiting congressional power to situations in which Congress subjects state conduct to laws of general applicability. App., infra, 31a-32a. Although Judge Phillips noted that the statutes upheld in Garcia and similar cases, such as EEOC v. Wyoming, 460 U.S. 226 (1983), were laws of general applicability, in that they regulated activities of both state and private actors, he explained that those laws were held constitutional "not so much--if at all--because they applied equally to state and private actors as because they directly regulated state activities rather than using the 'States as implements of regulation' of third parties." App., infra, 32a (quoting New York, 505 U.S. at 161). And, he suggested, the DPPA "does nothing different from, for example, that done by federal regulation of municipal sewage and state-owned solid waste disposal systems," or "federal regulation of state-owned liquor monopolies or lottery facilities. Surely it is no basis for invalidating such regulations that no private equivalent could be found in the particular area of regulation." Id. at 36a, 37a.
c. The panel denied the government's petition for rehearing, and the full court denied the government's suggestion of rehearing en banc by a vote of seven to six. App., infra, 73a-74a.
REASONS FOR GRANTING THE PETITION
Certiorari is warranted in this case to review "the exercise of the grave power of annulling an Act of Congress." United States v. Gainey, 380 U.S. 63, 65 (1965). The Fourth Circuit has invalidated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (DPPA) on its face, as violative of the constitutional structure of federalism. Moreover, the court of appeals' decision conflicts directly with the decisions of two other courts of appeals that have upheld the DPPA and have expressly rejected the Fourth Circuit's analysis. Travis v. Reno, 163 F.3d 1000 (7th Cir. 1998); Oklahoma v. United States, 161 F.3d 1266 (10th Cir. 1998).8 In addition, the Fourth Circuit's articulation of the limits on congressional power under the Commerce Clause to regulate state activity is erroneous and may have far-reaching implications for other congressional efforts to regulate commercial activity in which States engage. Review by this Court is therefore warranted.
1. In several fields, Congress has identified a problem in the dissemination of, and commerce in, personal information without the consent of the individual to whom the information pertains, and has acted to restrict and regulate such disclosure and commerce. In the context of information held by private enterprises, Congress has enacted statutes that restrict nonconsensual disclosures of personal information held by video stores, cable television companies, credit bureaus, and electronic communications services.9 Congress has also restricted disclosures of personal information by the federal government.10 In much the same way, the DPPA regulates the disclosure of personal information by state DMVs.11
There can be no serious dispute that personal information held by state agencies and sold to requesters or made available to requesters for further use in interstate commerce is a proper subject of regulation pursuant to Congress's power under the Commerce Clause. Indeed, the court of appeals did not suggest otherwise. The sale of information by state DMVs generates significant revenues for the States and is integral to the operations of the national direct marketing industry. See pp. 3-4, supra; Travis, 163 F.3d at 1002. Such information is therefore legitimately subject to federal regulation as a "thing[] in interstate commerce," and its dissemination is also legitimately subject to Congress's Commerce Clause power as an activity "having a substantial relation to interstate commerce." See United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 558, 559 (1995); see also Garcia v. San Antonio Metro. Transit Auth., 469 U.S. 528, 538 (1985); EEOC v. Wyoming, 460 U.S. 226, 235-236 (1983).
The court of appeals nonetheless concluded that, under constitutional principles of federalism, Congress may not employ its power under the Commerce Clause to regulate state activity in or affecting commerce unless that regulation is effected pursuant to a "law of general applicability," i.e., a single statute that applies both to state activity and also to essentially identical activity undertaken by private enterprises. App., infra, 18a. The court drew this supposed rule from this Court's decision in Garcia, which it read to establish that "Congress may only subject state governments to generally applicable laws." Id. at 15a (internal quotation marks omitted). This Court's decisions, however, establish no such principle.
This Court has held that it is permissible for Congress to regulate activity in or affecting commerce undertaken by the States in circumstances where Congress has also regulated similar activity undertaken by private enterprises. See, e.g., Garcia, supra; EEOC v. Wyoming, supra. The reason why such an exercise of congressional power is permissible, however, is not that in such cases Congress has simultaneously addressed activity undertaken by both state and private actors. Nor has it anything to do with the formal structure of the law passed by Congress-namely, that Congress enacted regulation of both private and state activity in the same piece of legislation rather than in separate laws. Rather, the exercise of congressional authority to regulate state activity in or affecting commerce is permissible because, by its nature, it does not impinge on the residual sovereignty that the States retain under the Constitution. As Judge Phillips explained, the statutes challenged in Garcia and Wyoming were upheld "because they directly regulated state activities rather than using the 'States as implements of regulation' of third parties." App., infra, 32a (quoting New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 161 (1992)). Those statutes were therefore found to be consistent with the system of dual sovereignty established by the Constitution, which "authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce directly," including activities undertaken by state agencies that are in or that affect interstate commerce, even if "it does not authorize Congress to regulate state governments' regulation of interstate commerce." New York, 505 U.S. at 166.
The same is true where (as here) Congress regulates state activity in or affecting commerce under a law directed only at that particular activity. Congress might decide that a particular danger affecting interstate commerce arises from the sale or dissemination of information held only in the hands of state agencies; or it might decide that the danger, although roughly analogous to a similar danger posed by misuse of information in private hands, is sufficiently different that it should be addressed in a statute designed for and directed at the matter at hand. The Commerce Clause does not require Congress to impose blanket regulations governing the dissemination and sale of personal information in all sectors, nor does it deny to Congress the flexibility of addressing the concerns raised by such disclosures and sales on a sector-by-sector basis, including giving consideration to whatever factors might weigh in favor of particular exemptions in particular contexts warranting disclosure. Whatever underlay Congress's decision in the DPPA to address disclosures and sales of personal information by state agencies separately, that decision does not somehow render Congress's otherwise unobjectionable regulation of commerce improper. It remains true that, when Congress directly regulates an activity in or affecting interstate commerce undertaken by a state agency, it regulates commerce, not the State's regulation of commerce. As the Seventh Circuit observed, the DPPA "affects states as owners of databases; it does not affect them in their role as governments." Travis, 163 F.3d at 1004.
2. This Court's decisions also establish that Congress may not "command[eer]" the States either by requiring them "to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program" or by "conscripting the States' officers directly" in the enforcement of federal law. Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 935 (1997); see New York, 505 U.S. at 188. The court of appeals acknowledged that the DPPA requires neither that the States enact legislation nor that state officials arrest or report violators of the DPPA; rather, the DPPA is enforced entirely through civil penalties and criminal fines sought by the federal government, and through civil causes of action brought against individuals. App., infra, 14a. Nonetheless, the lower court suggested that state officials must "administer the DPPA," and that the DPPA therefore runs afoul of the Court's holdings in New York and Printz that "the Federal Government may not require State officials to administer a federal regulatory program." Ibid. That reading of New York and Printz is incorrect, and the lower court's decision on that point is directly contrary to this Court's decision in South Carolina v. Baker, 485 U.S. 505 (1988).
When the Court in New York gave force to the constitutional rule that Congress may not "commandeer" the States, it explained that, under the system of dual sovereignty, "the Constitution has never been understood to confer upon Congress the ability to require the States to govern according to Congress' instructions." 505 U.S. at 161, 162. The DPPA, however, does not "commandeer" the States' governmental authority in that way. To the contrary, the DPPA "directly regulates the disclosure of [the specified] information," and it makes enforcement "the job of federal officials." Oklahoma, 161 F.3d at 1272; accord Travis, 163 F.3d at 1005 ("Wisconsin is no more a regulator or law enforcer when it decides what information to release from its database than is the corner Blockbuster Video outlet [when it complies with the Video Privacy Protection Act of 1988]."); App., infra, 29a (Phillips, J., dissenting) ("the end object of the Act is the direct regulation of state conduct" rather than "the indirect regulation of private conduct"); cf. Baker, 485 U.S. at 514 (the statute "regulates state activities; it does not * * * seek to control or influence the manner in which States regulate private parties").
State officials may, of course, have to take administrative steps to bring their agencies into compliance with the DPPA. The Court has made clear, however, that the necessity of taking such steps to ensure that the States conform to federal law does not amount to "commandeering" of state governments in contravention of the Constitution. As the Court explained in South Carolina v. Baker: "That a State wishing to engage in certain activity must take administrative and sometimes legislative action to comply with federal standards regulating that activity is a commonplace that presents no constitutional defect." 485 U.S. at 514-515. Indeed, if taking administrative steps to ensure compliance with federal law amounted to the forbidden "commandeering," then the Court's decision in Garcia, upholding the application of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq. (FLSA) to state employment, would be a nullity, "for the FLSA requires states to establish record-keeping systems and to establish mechanisms for paying employees according to a national formula. Every federal law that affects the way states participate in the marketplace may do the same." Travis, 163 F.3d at 1003-1004.
Moreover, the DPPA in no way interferes with a State's ability to collect information from its citizens or to use that information for motor vehicle-related or other governmental purposes. See 18 U.S.C. 2721(b)(1) and (14). Also, "[n]othing in the [DPPA] interferes with states' ability to license drivers and remove dangerous ones from the road." Travis, 163 F.3d at 1003; accord Oklahoma, 161 F.3d at 1272 ("The DPPA neither limits a state's ability to regulate in the field of automobile licensing and registration * * * nor restricts a state's ability to use motor vehicle information in its own regulatory activities."). And, far from imposing affirmative obligations on States, the DPPA simply imposes reasonable federal restrictions on the exercise of state authority. The DPPA thus effectively operates to preempt state law insofar as that state law may allow dissemination of personal information by DMVs in a manner inconsistent with federal law. The system of dual sovereignty established by the Constitution does not prohibit Congress from preempting state law in that manner. See New York, 505 U.S. at 167-168, 173-174; Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Ass'n, 452 U.S. 264, 290 (1981).
3. Congress enacted the DPPA after receiving evidence that disclosure of information from motor vehicle records had on numerous occasions led to serious, and indeed fatal, threats to individuals' safety. In addition, Congress understood that motor vehicle records are perhaps unique because (1) they constitute a single database, compiled by the States as a condition of engaging in an important function-driving-which unquestionably affects commerce and which is, in practical effect, a necessity of modern life, and (2) because they can be connected to license plates, which the States require individuals to display in public whenever they drive. Thus, the unique concern that Congress found here arises from the fact that individuals are effectively forced to advertise the key to their personal information on their license plate when they drive. As Representative Moran, one of the Act's sponsors, explained: "The key difference between DMV records and other public records comes from the license plate, through which every vehicle on the public highways can be linked to a specific individual. Anyone with access to data linking license plates with vehicle ownership has the ability to ascertain the name and address of the person who owns that vehicle. Other public records are not vulnerable to abuse in the same way." 140 Cong. Rec. H2523 (daily ed. Apr. 20, 1994).
Congress therefore had an ample basis on which to conclude that abuse of motor vehicle records to obtain individuals' personal information for nefarious purposes posed a sufficient threat to individuals' personal safety and autonomy, such that the exercise of its power under the Commerce Clause was legitimate. See M'Culloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat) 316, 421 (1819) ("Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with letter and spirit of the constitution, are constitutional."). And as the district court observed, South Carolina has offered no state interest in favor of unqualified disclosure of personal information in motor vehicle records to place in the balance against the privacy interest that Congress has identified as warranting protection. App., infra, 67a.
In sum, the DPPA is a wholly proper regulation of interstate commerce that does not impinge on any aspect of state sovereignty protected by the Constitution. Because the court of appeals has held that Act of Congress unconstitutional in a decision that conflicts with rulings of other courts of appeals, review by this Court is warranted.

CONCLUSION
The petition for a writ of certiorari should be granted.
Respectfully submitted.
SETH P. WAXMAN
Solicitor General
DAVID W. OGDEN
Acting Assistant Attorney General
EDWIN S. KNEEDLER
Deputy Solicitor General
PAUL R.Q. WOLFSON
Assistant to the Solicitor
General
MARK B. STERN
ALISA B. KLEIN
DANIEL L. KAPLAN
Attorneys

MARCH 1999