Determined whether the Commerce Clause authorized Congress to enact the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, which protects the private information kept by state driver's license bureaus against commercial use, and whether the statute violated the Tenth or Eleventh Amendment.
Full Case Title:
- Violence Against Women and Girls
Legal Momentun's Role:
- Joined Amicus Brief
Summary of the Case
This case challenged the constitutionality of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2721 et seq., enacted by Congress in 1994 to shield the personal information contained in state motor vehicle records from criminal and commercial misuse. The DPPA directs states to keep motor vehicle records private, with certain specified exceptions, and to establish and carry out procedures allowing individuals to waive their privacy rights. Several states, including South Carolina, challenged the constitutionality of the DPPA, contending that it violated the Tenth Amendment by requiring state governments to administer a federal program, and contravened the Eleventh Amendment by holding states liable for noncompliance.
Our Role in the Case
Legal Momentum joined an amicus brief, authored by Professor Erwin Chemerinsky at the University of Southern California, which argued that the DPPA provides crucial protection to women fleeing violent relationships, as motor vehicle records are often the most accessible—or even the only—means by which batterers can locate their victims.
The Supreme Court upheld the DPPA as a valid exercise of Congress' Commerce Clause powers because it regulated the availability of motor vehicle information on the commercial market. The Court held that the statute did not run afoul of the Tenth Amendment by conscripting states to enforce federal programs or regulations.