Air Courier Conf.v. Postal Workers,
498 U.S. 517 (1991)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Air Courier Conf.v. Postal Workers, 498 U.S. 517 (1991)

Air Courier Conference of America v.

American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO

No. 89-1416

Argued Nov. 28, 1990

Decided Feb. 26, 1991

498 U.S. 517


The United States Postal Service's monopoly over the carriage of letters in and for the Nation is codified in a group of statutes known as the Private Express Statutes (PES). The monopoly was created by Congress as a revenue protection measure for the Postal Service vis-a-vis private competitors. Pursuant to a PES provision allowing it to suspend PES restrictions as to any mail route where the public interest so requires, the Postal Service issued a regulation authorizing a practice called "international remailing," which entails bypassing the Service and using private couriers to deposit with foreign postal services letters destined for foreign addresses. Respondent Unions, representing Postal Service employees, sued in the District Court, challenging the regulation pursuant to the judicial review provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and claiming that the rulemaking record was inadequate to support a finding that the regulation's suspension of the PES was in the public interest. The Court of Appeals vacated the District Court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Postal Service and petitioner Air Courier Conference of America (ACCA), holding that the Unions satisfied the zone-of-interests requirement for APA review under Clarke v. Securities Industry Assn., 479 U. S. 388, and, on the merits, that the PES suspension was not justified by the public interest.


1. This Court declines to decide whether 39 U.S.C. § 410(a) exempts the Postal Service from judicial review under the APA, since the question was not argued to, nor considered by, either of the lower courts, was not raised by ACCA in its certiorari petition, was raised by the Postal Service for the first time in its brief in opposition to the petition, and is not encompassed by the questions presented upon which certiorari was granted. Pp. 498 U. S. 522-523.

2. The Unions do not have standing to challenge the Postal Service's suspension of the PES to permit private couriers to engage in international remailing. To establish APA standing under Clarke and similar cases, the Unions must show, among other things, that the claimed adverse effect on postal workers' employment opportunities resulting from the suspension is within the zone of interests encompassed by the PES.

Page 498 U. S. 518

This they cannot do, since the language, see, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 1696(c) and 39 U.S.C. § 601(a), and legislative history of the PES demonstrate that, in enacting those statutes, Congress was concerned not with protecting postal employment or furthering postal job opportunities, but with the receipt of necessary revenues for the Postal Service. The PES enable the Service to fulfill its responsibilities to provide service to all communities at a uniform rate by preventing private couriers from competing selectively on the Service's most profitable routes. The postal monopoly, therefore, exists to protect the citizenry at large, not postal workers. Nor can the courts, in applying the zone-of-interests test, look beyond the PES to the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act (PRA), which, in addition to reenacting the PES without substantive changes, contains various labor-management provisions designed to improve pay, working conditions, and labor-management relations for postal employees. None of the PES provisions have any integral relationship with the PRA labor-management provisions, and the PRA's legislative history contains no indication that such a connection exists. It stretches the zone-of-interests test too far to say that, simply because the PES may be the linchpin of the Postal Service, those whom a different part of the PRA was designed to benefit may challenge a violation of the PES. Clarke, supra, at 479 U. S. 401, distinguished. Pp. 498 U. S. 523-530.

3. In light of the Unions' lack of standing, this Court does not reach the merits of their claim that the PES suspension was not in the public interest. Pp. 498 U. S. 530-531.

282 U.S.App.D.C. 5, 891 F.2d 304, reversed.

REHNQUIST, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, O'CONNOR, SCALIA, KENNEDY, and SOUTER, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which MARSHALL and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 498 U. S. 531.

Page 498 U. S. 519

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