Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sprint PCS Assets v. City of Palos Verdes Estates (9th Cir. - May 8, 2007)

Last month I noted that the Ninth Circuit had been certifying questions to state supreme courts like crazy, particularly in March and April. Oregon, Washington, and Nevada (twice), and I wondered both if the Ninth Circuit would keep up the pace as well as when the California Supreme Court would get in the act.

It did. Now. The month of May brings the California Supreme Court into the fold, with this opinion requesting certification regarding whether local ordinances regulating cell phone towers are preempted by the California Utilities Code.

Unlike the Ninth Circuit's certification to the California Supreme Court last year in Readylink, which I (gently) criticized, I think that the certification decision here is probably the right call. There's a case now pending in the California Supreme Court (Sprint Telephony) that raises a nearly identical issue to the one here. Might as well get the California Supreme Court's actual view rather than guessing at it. My only (slight) critique is that if the cases are really identical, it might be more efficient simply to defer submission of the present case -- and then decide it promptly after the California Supreme Court decides Sprint Telephony -- rather than go through the extra step of certifying. Sure, the latter is the more risk-adverse move, but I might nonetheless have cut out the extra step.

Still, good call. And glad to see California join the 2007 certification crew. Presumably, next up: finishing up the list with certification to Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, and Montana.