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to in $ 210(g). Permitting any state-law claim based on whistle-blowing retaliation, the court reasoned, would frustrate this congressional objective. We do not agree. As an initial matter, we note that the text of $210(g) specifically limits its applicability to the remedy provided by $ 210(a) and does not suggest that it bars state-law tort actions. Nor does the legislative history of $ 210 reveal a clear congressional purpose to supplant state-law causes of action that might afford broader relief. Indeed, the only explanation for any of the statute's remedial limitations is the Committee Report's statement that employees who deliberately violate nuclear-safety requirements would be denied protection under $210(g) “[i]n order to avoid abuse of the protection afforded under this section.” S. Rep. No. 95–848, p. 30 (1978) (emphasis added).
In any event, even if the District Court and respondent are correct in concluding that Congress wanted those who deliberately commit nuclear-safety violations, as defined under $ 210(g), to be denied all remedies against employer retaliation, this federal interest would be served by pre-empting state law only to the extent that it afforded recovery to such violators. See Norris v. Lumbermen's Mutual Casualty Co., 881 F. 2d 1144, 1150 (CA1 1989). In the instant case, the ALJ found that petitioner had not deliberately committed a safety violation within the meaning of $ 210(g), App. to Pet. for Cert. 44a, and neither the Secretary nor the lower courts have suggested otherwise. Thus, barring petitioner's tort action would not even serve the federal interest the lower courts and respondent have gleaned from their reading of this section.
The District Court also relied on the absence in $210 of general authorization for the Secretary to award exemplary damages against employers who engage in retaliatory conduct. The District Court concluded, and respondent now argues, that this absence implies a congressional intent to bar a state action, like petitioner's, that permits such an award.
As the District Court put it, $ 210 reflects "an informed judgment [by Congress] that in no circumstances should a nuclear whistler blower receive punitive damages when fired or discriminated against because of his or her safety complaints.” 683 F. Supp., at 1014. We believe the District Court and respondent have read too much into Congress' decision not to authorize exemplary damages for most $210 violations. First, even with respect to actions brought under $ 210, the District Court was incorrect in stating that “in no circumstances” will a nuclear whistle-blower receive punitive damages; $ 210(d) authorizes a district court to award exemplary damages in enforcement proceedings brought by the Secretary. Moreover, and more importantly, we think the District Court failed to follow this Court's teaching that “rdinarily, state causes of action are not pre-empted solely because they impose liability over and above that authorized by federal law.” California v. ARC America Corp., 490 U. S. 93, 105 (1989). Absent some specific suggestion in the text or legislative history of $210, which we are unable to find, we cannot conclude that Congress intended to pre-empt all state actions that permit the recovery of exemplary damages.
Finally, we address the District Court's holding that the expeditious timeframes provided by Congress for the processing of $210 claims reflect a congressional decision that no whistle-blower should be able to recover under any other law after the time for filing under $ 210 has expired. The District Court reasoned, and respondent agrees, that if a statelaw remedy is available after the time for filing a $210 complaint has run, a whistle-blower will have less incentive to bring a $210 complaint. As a result, the argument runs, federal regulatory agencies will remain unaware of some safety violations and retaliatory behavior and will thus be unable to ensure radiological safety at nuclear facilities. We cannot deny that there is some force to this argument, but we
do not believe that the problem is as great as respondent suggests.
First, many, if not most, retaliatory incidents come about as a response to safety complaints that employees register with federal regulatory agencies. The Federal Government thus is already aware of these safety violations, whether or not the employee invokes the remedial provisions of $ 210. Also, we are not so sure as respondent seems to be that employees will forgo their $ 210 options and rely solely on state remedies for retaliation. Such a prospect is simply too speculative a basis on which to rest a finding of pre-emption. The Court has observed repeatedly that pre-emption is ordinarily not to be implied absent an “actual conflict.” See,
, e. g., Savage v. Jones, 225 U. S. 501, 533 (1912). The “teaching of this Court's decisions ... enjoin[s] seeking out conflicts between state and federal regulation where none clearly exists.” Huron Portland Cement Co. v. Detroit, 362 U. S. 440, 446 (1960).
III We conclude that petitioner's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress does not fall within the pre-empted field of nuclear safety as that field has been defined in prior cases. Nor does it conflict with any particular aspect of $ 210. The contrary judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
PEEL V. ATTORNEY REGISTRATION AND DISCIPLI
NARY COMMISSION OF ILLINOIS
CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
No. 88–1775. Argued January 17, 1990–Decided June 4, 1990 Petitioner Peel is licensed to practice law in Illinois and other States. He
also has a "Certificate in Civil Trial Advocacy” from the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA), which offers periodic certification to applicants who meet exacting standards of experience and competence in trial work. The Administrator of respondent Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of Illinois filed a complaint alleging that Peel, by using a professional letterhead that stated his name, followed by the indented notation “Certified Civil Trial Specialist By the [NBTA)” and the unindented notation “Licensed: Illinois, Missouri, Arizona,” was, inter alia, holding himself out as a certified legal specialist in violation of Rule 2-105(a)(3) of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility. The Commission recommended censure. The State Supreme Court adopted the Commission's recommendation, concluding that the First Amendment did not protect the letterhead because the public could confuse the State and NBTA as the sources of his license to practice and of his certification, and because the certification could be read as a claim of superior
quality. Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded. 126 Ill. 2d 397, 534 N. E. 2d 980, reversed and remanded.
JUSTICE STEVENS, joined by JUSTICE BRENNAN, JUSTICE BLACKMUN, and JUSTICE KENNEDY, concluded that a lawyer has a constitutional right, under the standards applicable to commercial speech, to advertise his or her certification as a trial specialist by NBTA. Pp. 99-111.
(a) Truthful advertising related to lawful activities is entitled to First Amendment protections. Although a State may prohibit misleading advertising entirely, it may not place an absolute prohibition on potentially misleading information if the information may also be presented in a way that is not deceptive. In re R. M. J., 455 U. S. 191. Pp. 99–100.
(b) Peel's letterhead is not actually or inherently misleading. The facts stated on his letterhead are true and verifiable, and there has been no finding of actual deception or misunderstanding. The state court's focus on the implied “claim" as to the "quality" of Peel's legal services confuses the distinction between statements of opinion or quality and statements of objective facts that may support an inference of quality. Even if NBTA standards are not well known, there is no evidence that
consumers, such as those in States with certification plans, are misled if they do not inform themselves of the precise standards of certification. There also has been no finding, and there is no basis for the belief, that Peel's representation generally would be associated with governmental action. The public understands that licenses are issued by governmental authorities and that many certificates are issued by private organizations, and it is unlikely that the public necessarily would confuse certification as a “specialist" by a national organization with formal state recognition. Moreover, other States that have evaluated lawyers' advertisements of NBTA certifications have concluded that they were not misleading and were protected by the First Amendment. Pp. 100–106.
(c) The State's interest in avoiding any potential that Peel's statements might mislead is insufficient to justify a categorical ban on their use; nor does the State Supreme Court's inherent authority to supervise its own bar insulate its judgment from this Court's review for constitutional infirmity. The need for a complete prophylactic rule against any claim of certification or specialty is undermined by the fact that the same risk of deception is posed by specified designations – for "Registered Patent Attorney” and “Proctor in Admiralty” – that are permitted under Rule 2–105(a). Such information facilitates the consumer's access to legal services and better serves the administration of justice. To the extent that such statements could confuse consumers, the State might consider screening certifying organizations or requiring a disclaimer about the certifying organization or the standards of a specialty. Pp. 106-111.
JUSTICE MARSHALL, joined by JUSTICE BRENNAN, agreeing that the State may not prohibit Peel from holding himself out as a certified NBTA trial specialist because the letterhead is neither actually nor inherently misleading, concluded that the letterhead is potentially misleading and thus the State may enact regulations other than a total ban to ensure that the public is not misled by such representations. The letterhead is potentially misleading because NBTA's name could give the impression to nonlawyers that the organization is a federal governmental agency; ; the juxtaposition of the references to Peel's state licenses to practice law and to his certification by the NBTA may lead individuals to believe that the NBTA is somehow sanctioned by the States; and the reference to NBTA certification may cause people to think that Peel is necessarily a better trial lawyer than attorneys without certification, because facts as well as opinions may be misleading when they are presented without adequate information. A State could require a lawyer to provide additional information in order to prevent a claim of NBTA certification from being misleading. A State may require, for example, that the letterhead include a disclaimer stating that the NBTA is a private organization not affiliated with or sanctioned by the State or Federal Government, or