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Supreme Court Hears Argument on Preemption Issue Involving State Agency


The US Supreme Court engaged in a wide-ranging debate with the parties' attorneys over whether a California licensing law, which grants the Labor Commissioner initial jurisdiction over talent agency disputes (the Talent Agency Act or TAA), precludes enforcing the parties' arbitration agreement. The issue was debated on January 14 in Arnold M. Preston v. Alex Ferrer (No. 06-1463). Associate Justice Antonin Scalia pressed G. Eric Brunstad Jr, counsel for Ferrer, on why his client sought to involve the Labor Commissioner, rather than take advantage of the immediacy of arbitration. Prof. Sarah Cole of Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law suggested that the Court's concern with the length of the Labor Commissioner's adjudication and subsequent de novo appeal could indicate that the Court is leaning toward finding preemption in this case.

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