Argued: March 30, 2017
Court for Baltimore City Case No. 24-C-14-005119
Barbera, C.J. Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, Hotten, Getty,
Government of the United States, . . . though limited in its
powers, is supreme; and its laws, when made in pursuance of
the Constitution, form the supreme law of the land[.]"
Chief Justice John Marshall, McCulloch v. Maryland,
17 U.S. 316, 406 (1819).
the States are independent sovereigns in our federal system,
we have long presumed that Congress does not cavalierly
pre-empt state-law causes of action. In all pre-emption
cases, and particularly in those in which Congress has
legislated . . . in a field which the States have
traditionally occupied, we start with the assumption that the
historic police powers of the States were not to be
superseded by the Federal Act unless that was the clear and
manifest purpose of Congress."
Justice John Paul Stevens, Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr,
518 U.S. 470, 485 (1996) (citations and internal quotation
cases involving the interplay between the laws issued by the
federal government and those enacted by the states, courts
must balance the twin principles stated above: First,
pursuant to the Supremacy Clause,  federal law enacted under
the delegated powers and authority of the federal government
is the supreme law of the land; Second, there is a
presumption against federal laws or regulations preempting or
superseding state laws, particularly in fields that have
historically been the province of the states.
instant case we are called upon to apply those principles to
Maryland Code, (1974, 2010 Repl. Vol.), Real Property Article
("RP") § 8-402.1, which provides that a court
ruling on a landlord-tenant dispute must conclude that a
breach of a lease is "substantial and warrants an
eviction" before granting judgment for possession of the
leased premises. We must decide whether the Maryland statute
conflicts with, and is thus preempted by, federal law and
regulations mandating that federally-subsidized Section 8
project-based housing developments include provisions in
their tenant lease agreements to provide that engaging in any
drug-related criminal activity on or near the leased premises
is grounds for termination of the lease. For the following
reasons, we shall conclude that RP § 8-402.1 does not
conflict with the congressional intent behind the federal law
and regulations at issue and, therefore, we shall hold that
the statute is not preempted by federal law.
Hosford, the Respondent, is severely disabled and has been
wheelchair-bound since 1987. He suffers from incomplete
paralysis in his extremities, with muscle spasms and
sensations leaving him in daily pain. Since 1989, Mr. Hosford has
resided at Ruscombe Gardens Apartments, an apartment building
in Baltimore City owned by Chateau Foghorn LP
("Foghorn"), the Petitioner. Ruscombe Gardens
Apartments provides housing for low-income elderly and
disabled tenants that is subsidized through a federal
"Section 8" project-based rental subsidy
2012, Mr. Hosford renewed his lease with Ruscombe Gardens,
and signed a "Drug-Free Housing Policy" addendum to
the lease, which provided, in pertinent part,
DRUG-FREE HOUSING POLICY
IN CONSIDERATION of the execution or renewal of the lease of
the dwelling unit identified in the lease, Owner and Tenant
agree as follows:
1. Tenant, any member of tenant's household, or a guest
or other person under the tenant's control shall not
engage in or facilitate criminal activity on or near the
project, including, but not limited to, violent criminal
activity or drug-related criminal activity. . . .
2. Tenant or any member of tenant's household, or a guest
or other person under the tenant's control shall not
engage in any act intended to facilitate criminal
activity, including drug-related criminal activity on or
near the project premises.
3. Tenant or members of the household will not permit the
dwelling unit to be used, or to facilitate, criminal
activity, including drug-related criminal activity or
possession of drug paraphernalia, regardless of whether the
individual engaging in such activity is a member of the
household or a guest.
4. Tenant or member will not engage in the manufacture, sale,
or distribution of illegal drugs at any location, whether on
or near project premises or otherwise.
* * *
6. VIOLATION OF THE ABOVE PROVISIONS SHALL BE A MATERIAL
VIOLATION OF THE LEASE AND GOOD CAUSE FOR TERMINATION OF
TENANCY. A single violation of any of the provisions of
this policy shall be deemed a serious violation and a
material noncompliance with the lease. Unless otherwise
provided by law, proof of violation shall not require
criminal conviction, but shall be by a preponderance of the
(Emphasis in original.)
2014, Ruscombe Gardens Apartments was experiencing a bed bug
infestation, and Foghorn hired an extermination company to
treat units in the complex. On June 10, 2014, two
exterminators entered Mr. Hosford's unit to perform
extermination treatment and saw a marijuana plant growing in
a pot in his bathtub. They reported this to the apartment's
management office. A security guard employed by Ruscombe
Gardens Apartments went to Mr. Hosford's unit and saw the
same marijuana plant.
police were called, and an officer responded and came to Mr.
Hosford's unit. The officer examined the plant in the
bathroom, concluded it was marijuana, and confiscated it. He
then issued Mr. Hosford a criminal citation for the
possession of marijuana. A police chemist tested the plant
found in the apartment and concluded that it was marijuana.
Subsequently, Mr. Hosford was charged in the District Court
of Maryland sitting in Baltimore City with possession of less
than ten grams of marijuana. Ultimately, a nolle
prosequi was entered as to that charge.
2014, Foghorn gave Mr. Hosford a notice of termination of his
lease. When he did not vacate the unit within thirty days of
that notice, Foghorn initiated an eviction action pursuant to
RP § 8-402.1 against Mr. Hosford in the District Court
of Maryland sitting in Baltimore City, claiming that Mr.
Hosford had breached the terms of the drug-free housing
agreement addendum to his lease. Mr. Hosford thereafter filed
a timely prayer for a jury trial in the circuit court,
claiming that the value of his right to continued occupation
of his apartment exceeded the $15, 000 threshold set by
case was subsequently transferred to the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City for a jury trial. Prior to the scheduled date
of trial, Foghorn filed a motion for summary judgment with a
supporting memorandum, asserting:
• That there was no genuine dispute of fact that Mr.
Hosford had possessed marijuana in his apartment;
• That, while Mr. Hosford had not been convicted of a
crime for that marijuana possession, his possession of
marijuana was illegal under federal law and, at the time of
his citation by a Baltimore City police officer, was also
illegal under Maryland law, and therefore constituted
"drug-related criminal activity" in violation of
the drug-free housing policy addendum to Mr. Hosford's
• That the provisions of the drug-free housing policy
addendum permitting eviction for drug-related criminal
activity to Mr. Hosford's lease were mandated by federal
law and regulations governing leases for federally-subsidized
• That the requirement in RP § 8-402.1 that a trial
court order eviction only if a tenant's breach is
"substantial and warrants an eviction" should be
held to be preempted by federal law in Mr. Hosford's
case, because that requirement conflicts with federal law and
regulations governing the Section 8 project-based housing
program which, according to Foghorn, "have vested
[Foghorn] with the discretion to determine whether
drug-related criminal activity by a tenant is substantial and
warrants eviction, without any qualifications."
response, Mr. Hosford claimed that there was a dispute of
material fact as to whether the plant in his apartment was
marijuana. He also noted that his criminal citation was for
possession of less than ten grams of marijuana. And, he
presented medical records to show his history of muscle
spasms and other sensations and pain as a result of his
paralysis, along with an expert affidavit that the use of
marijuana "is likely to provide . . . therapeutic or
palliative relief from such symptoms. On the basis of that
information, he asserted that even if he had possessed
marijuana his actions did not constitute a criminal offense
pursuant to Maryland Code, Criminal Law Article
("CR") §§ 5-601(c)(2)(ii) or
5-602(c)(3)(iii)(1), and thus were not a breach of his lease.
Finally, he contended that even if he had breached the terms
of his lease, the trial court could still determine whether
the breach was "substantial and warrants an
eviction" pursuant to RP § 8-402.1.
March 18, 2015, the circuit court held a hearing on
Foghorn's motion for summary judgment. On March 23, 2015,
the circuit court issued a written order granting summary
judgment in favor of Foghorn as well as a judgment of
restitution of possession. In a thorough and well-written
memorandum opinion accompanying its order, the circuit court
set forth its reasoning for granting summary judgment.
circuit court began by addressing the evidence as to Mr.
Hosford's possession of marijuana. The circuit court
noted that Foghorn had provided a certified Laboratory Report
from the police chemist stating that material from the plant
had been analyzed and found to contain marijuana. The circuit
court therefore concluded that there was not a dispute of
material fact that a marijuana plant was found growing in Mr.
Hosford's rental unit.
circuit court then turned to whether Mr. Hosford's
possession of marijuana was illegal activity. The circuit
court noted that Maryland no longer "punishes the
possession of less than ten grams of marijuana as a crime[,
]" as CR § 5-601(c)(2)(ii) now provides that
possession of less than ten grams of marijuana is "a
civil offense." However, the court also noted that the
law amending CR § 5-601 to add that provision did not
become effective until October 1, 2014-more than four months
after the marijuana plant was discovered in Mr. Hosford's
apartment. See 2014 Md. Laws ch. 158. Thus, that
provision did not apply to Mr. Hosford's case.
circuit court also addressed another statutory provision
raised by Mr. Hosford, CR §§ 5-601(c)(3)(iii)(1),
which provides that it is an "affirmative defense"
in a prosecution for marijuana if a defendant can show that
he has a "debilitating medical condition" for which
"marijuana is likely to provide the defendant with
therapeutic or palliative relief." Although the circuit
court noted that no appellate court had yet considered the
effect of that affirmative defense, the court concluded that
"the statute and the ordinary operation of affirmative
defenses in criminal cases suggest that a defendant
successfully asserting the affirmative defense would escape
conviction altogether." Therefore, the circuit court
concluded that "if Maryland law alone were the basis for
[Foghorn's] assertion of criminal activity by Mr.
Hosford, " then his conduct might not be considered
the circuit court noted that, under federal law, marijuana
remains a Schedule I controlled substance. And the circuit
court concluded that, unlike under Maryland law, there was no
"explicit or implicit necessity exception for the
medical use of marijuana" in the federal Controlled
Substances Act. The circuit court therefore held that
"[Foghorn] may proceed on the basis that the possession
of any quantity of marijuana is a crime under federal
circuit court then turned to the last remaining issue,
whether the court or a jury is "allowed to review the
landlord's exercise of discretion in treating this
particular possession of marijuana as warranting termination
of the lease and eviction." The circuit court
characterized the issue as one of federal preemption,
Federal law compels [Foghorn] to include in its leases for
subsidized housing provisions that forbid tenants from
engaging in or permitting any criminal drug activity on the
premises and that give it the authority to evict a tenant for
breaching that promise. See Dep't of Housing and
Urban Dev. v. Rucker, 535 U.S. 125, 130-31 (2002).
Although these terms are strict, the severity is tempered by
federal regulations giving landlords some measure of
discretion in deciding whether to seek eviction. Id.
at 128-29. [Foghorn] argues that this federal law preempts RP
§ 8-402.1(b)(1) to the extent [it] vests in Maryland
courts discretion to determine either that an alleged breach
is substantial or that it warrants eviction.
analyzing the preemption issue, the circuit court discussed
Brown v. Housing Opportunities Commission, 350 Md.
570 (1998) and Grady Management, Inc. v. Epps, 218
Md.App. 712 (2014), as cases dealing with the relationship
between RP § 8-402.1 and federal regulations governing
federally-subsidized housing. However, the circuit court
concluded that neither case provided significant guidance, as
neither involved an issue of preemption.
the circuit court relied upon three out-of-state cases:
Milwaukee City Housing Authority v. Cobb, 860 N.W.2d
267 (Wis. 2015); Boston Housing Authority v. Garcia,
871 N.E.2d 1073 (Mass. 2007); and Scarborough v. Winn
Residential L.L.P./Atlantic Terrace Apartments, 890 A.2d
249 (D.C. 2006). The circuit court concluded that all three
out-of-state cases stood for the proposition that
"although federal law vests a landlord renting
subsidized housing with discretion not to pursue eviction in
all instances of criminal activity, state courts
cannot be given discretion to overrule the landlord's
exercise of discretion." (Emphasis in original.)
Therefore, the circuit court held that the requirement in RP
§ 8-402.1(b)(1) that a court must determine that a
tenant's breach "was substantial and warrants an
eviction" before awarding a judgment of possession
"is preempted by federal law to the extent that it would
permit a judge or jury either to exercise discretion de
novo or to review the landlord's exercise of
discretion in deciding to proceed with an
eviction." Mr. Hosford subsequently filed a motion
to alter or amend judgment, which the circuit court denied.
Mr. Hosford noted an appeal to the Court of Special Appeals.
In a reported opinion, the Court of Special Appeals reversed
the judgment of the circuit court. Hosford v. Chateau
Foghorn LP, 229 Md.App. 499 (2016). The Court of Special
Appeals considered three issues, only one of which is before
1. In an eviction action involving federally-subsidized
housing, does federal law preempt the requirement in [RP]
§ 8-402.1 that a court must conclude that a breach of a
lease be "substantial" and "warrant
eviction" before granting judgment for possession of the
Id. at 502.
Court of Special Appeals held that federal law did not
preempt RP § 8-402.1. The intermediate appellate court
discussed the various types of federal preemption- express,
field, and conflict-and concluded that the only applicable
preemption doctrine was conflict preemption. Id. at
510-12. The Court of Special Appeals noted that the intent of
Congress is the focus of a preemption analysis. Id.
at 510. The court also stated that in determining
congressional intent, courts start "with the basic
assumption that Congress did not intend to displace state
law, " see id. (quoting Maryland v.
Louisiana, 451 U.S. 725, 746 (1981)), a presumption that
is at its strongest when the particular area of law is
traditionally the domain of the states. Id. at
510-11. The Court of Special Appeals held that "[i]n
instances where federal law regulates an area traditionally
within the domain of state law, the state law must do
'major damage' to 'clear and substantial'
federal interests before the Supremacy Clause will demand
that state law will be overridden[.]" Id. at
511 (quoting Hillman v. Maretta, 133 S.Ct. 1943,
1950 (2013) (quoting Hisquierdo v. Hisquierdo, 439
U.S. 572, 581 (1979))).
Court of Special Appeals determined that
"landlord-tenant law is traditionally within the domain
of state law[.]" Id. at 512. The court
therefore held that under the standard of conflict preemption
set forth in Supreme Court case law "the disputed
portions of RP § 8-402.1 are preempted only if they
cause 'major damage' to 'clear and
substantial['] federal interests embedded in the federal
Court of Special Appeals then analyzed the relevant federal
statute, regulations and agency guidance documents, see
id. at 512-22, and identified two
"closely-related" federal interests: first, that
"residents of federally-supported housing be protected
against the effects of criminal activity in general, and
drug-related criminal activity in particular"; and,
second, that "landlords have discretion to initiate
eviction proceedings in such situations[, ]" although
"only by recourse to state or local landlord-tenant
law" through filing an eviction action in state court.
Id. at 508-09. The Court of Special Appeals then
evaluated whether RP § 8-402.1 did "major
damage" to those interests so as to require preemption.
intermediate appellate court noted that, due to the federal
interest in affording landlords discretion to evict tenants
for drug-related criminal activity, "a landlord does not
have to consider equitable factors in determining whether to
pursue eviction for drug-related conduct." Id.
at 523. However, the Court of Special Appeals also determined
that "a landlord cannot effect an eviction by itself-it
must go to court and obtain a judgment entered in accordance
with non-pre-empted state law." Id.
Consequently, the Court of Special Appeals concluded that
there was no federal congressional intent to require
"state courts to order evictions upon a finding of a
breach of the lease due to drug-related activity[, ]"
without considering equitable considerations mandated under
state law. Id. at 523-24.
Court of Special Appeals concluded that, based on its
analysis of the federal interests and applicable case law,
"permitting State courts to exercise discretion and
consider equitable factors when deciding whether to rule in a
landlord's favor in an eviction action concerning
federally-subsidized housing is consistent with federal law
and policy." Id. at 529. However, the Court of
Special Appeals also emphasized that a trial court's
discretion to review a landlord's decision in the
federally-subsidized housing context should be narrow, and
that courts should presume that drug-related criminal
activity "ordinarily" warrants eviction,
We believe that courts can strike the proper balance between
federal policy and state law by presuming that drug-related
criminal activity is a breach that ordinarily
warrants eviction under RP § 8-402(b)(1), but that this
presumption may be rebutted by equitable factors that arise
in a given case. This approach gives proper weight both to
the exercise of the landlord's discretion accorded under
federal law to seek eviction, and to Maryland's public
policy, embodied in RP § 8-402.1(b), that
tenants-especially impoverished and disabled ones-not be
evicted automatically when good reasons are presented and
credited to show that such eviction would be not only unduly
harsh but not necessary to accommodate the Federal
Id. at 529-30 (emphasis in original). As the
circuit court did not exercise such discretion, the Court of
Special Appeals reversed the grant of summary judgment.
Id. at 530. Foghorn thereafter petitioned this Court
for a writ of certiorari, which we granted on December 2,
2016. 450 Md. 661 (2016).
appeal to this Court, Foghorn presents a single question for
our review,  which we have rephrased: Did the Court
of Special Appeals err in holding that, in an eviction action
for a breach of lease, the requirements in RP §
8-402.1(b)(1) that a court must determine that a tenant's
breach of lease was "substantial" and
"warrants an eviction" in order to award judgment
for the restitution of the possession of the premises to the
landlord are not preempted by federal law and regulations
governing federally-subsidized Section 8 project-based
question can be broken down into two parts:
A. Was the Court of Special Appeals correct in holding that
landlord-tenant law is an area that is traditionally within
the domain of state law and, on that basis, applying a
heightened presumption against federal preemption of
Maryland's landlord-tenant law, including RP §
B. If the answer to Question A is "yes, " was the
Court of Special Appeals correct in holding that RP §
8-402.1(b)(1) does not conflict with the congressional intent
behind the statute and regulations mandating certain lease
provisions in Section 8 project-based housing and, therefore,
that the presumption against federal preemption is not
overcome as to RP § 8-402.1(b)(1)?
reasons stated below, we shall hold that the Court of Special
Appeals correctly concluded that landlord-tenant law is an
area traditionally within the domain of the states. And,
although we shall decline to endorse the "major
damage" standard of review for areas of law within the
traditional domain of the states, we shall hold that the
intermediate appellate court correctly applied a heightened
presumption against federal preemption. Finally, we shall
hold that the Court of Special Appeals also was correct to
hold that the presumption against preemption is not overcome
as to RP § 8-402.1 because that statute does not stand
in conflict with Congress' intent behind the mandatory
lease provisions at issue. Therefore, we shall affirm the
judgment of the Court of Special Appeals.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Foghorn,
and Foghorn appeals from the Court of Special Appeals'
reversal of that grant of summary judgment. A court may grant
summary judgment in favor of the moving party "if the
motion and response show that there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and that the party in whose favor
judgment is entered is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Md. Rule 2-501(f).
The question of whether a trial court's grant of summary
judgment was proper is a question of law subject to de
novo review on appeal. In reviewing a grant of summary
judgment under [Maryland] Rule 2-501, we independently review
the record to determine whether the parties properly
generated a dispute of material fact, and, if not, whether
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
We review the record in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and construe any reasonable inferences that
may be drawn from the facts against the moving party.
Boland v. Boland, 423 Md. 296, 366 (2011) (quoting
Haas v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 396 Md. 469, 479
the material facts are not in dispute-the parties do not
contest that Mr. Hosford possessed marijuana, and Mr. Hosford
has not appealed from the circuit court's ruling that
such possession was illegal activity in breach of the terms
of his lease with Foghorn. Instead, the sole issue before
this Court is the purely legal issue of whether a trial court
could properly find that Mr. Hosford's breach was
"substantial and warrants eviction" pursuant to RP
§ 8-402.1(b)(1), or whether that statute is preempted by
federal law and regulations governing lease provisions in
federally-subsidized housing. Like all questions of law, we
shall review that issue without deference to the conclusions
of the trial court, or the Court of Special Appeals.
central to the constitutional design, adopts the principle
that both the National and State Governments have elements of
sovereignty the other is bound to respect." Arizona
v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 398 (2012). The
existence of two sovereigns allows for "the possibility
that laws can be in conflict or at cross-purposes."
Id. at 398-99. The Supremacy Clause was adopted with
such conflicts in mind, and provides that federal law
"shall be the supreme law of the land; and the Judges in
every State shall be bound thereby, any thing in the
Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary
notwithstanding." U.S. Const. Art. VI, § 2.
the Supreme Court has noted that "[t]his relatively
clear and simple mandate has generated considerable
discussion in cases where [courts] have had to discern
whether Congress has pre-empted state action in a particular
area." Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly, 533
U.S. 525, 540-41 (2001). Indeed, courts have determined that
there are at least three instances in which state laws are
preempted: express, field, and conflict preemption. First,
"[w]here Congress has expressly stated its intent to
preempt state law, federal law prevails" (express
preemption). Wells v. Chevy Chase Bank, F.S.B., 377
Md. 197, 209-10 (2003); see also Arizona v. United
States, 567 U.S. at 399 ("[T]he States are
precluded from regulating conduct in a field that Congress,
acting within its proper authority, has determined must be
regulated by its exclusive governance."). Second,
preemption occurs "even where Congress has not expressly
stated its intention in that regard, if there is evidence of
Congress' intent to occupy a given field, and the state
law falls within that field" (field preemption).
Wells, 377 Md. at 210 (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted); see also Arizona v. United
States, 567 U.S. at 399 ("The intent to displace
state law altogether can be inferred from a framework of
regulation 'so pervasive . . . that Congress left no room
for the States to supplement it'" or where there is
a "'federal interest . . . so dominant that the
federal system will be assumed to preclude enforcement of
state laws on the same subject.'") (quoting Rice
v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230 (1947)).
Third, "state laws are preempted when they conflict with
federal law" (conflict preemption). Arizona v.
United States, 567 U.S. at 399; see also,
United Food & Comm. Workers Int'l Union, et al.
v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., et al., ___Md. ___, No. 42,
Sept. Term 2016 (June 22, 2017). Conflict preemption
"includes cases where compliance with both federal and
state regulations is a physical impossibility, " as well
as "those instances where the challenged state law
stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of
the full purposes and objectives of Congress[.]"
Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. at 399 (citations
and internal quotation marks omitted).
case, the Court of Special Appeals stated that "[t]he
parties agree, as do we, that the concepts of express and
field preemption are not applicable to this case."
Hosford, 229 Md.App. at 512. We agree with our
brethren on the intermediate appellate court; the parties do
not raise the issue of express or field preemption in this
appeal, and we discern no congressional intent to expressly
preempt state landlord-tenant law for federally- subsidized
housing or to occupy the entire field of landlord-tenant law
as to federally-subsidized housing. Nor does Foghorn claim
that it is impossible to comply with both the state and
federal law at issue. Consequently, we shall limit our
discussion to whether RP § 8-402.1 "stands as an
obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full
purposes and objectives of Congress" and therefore must
be deemed to be preempted under the doctrine of conflict
conflict preemption, as in all preemption cases, "[t]he
purpose of Congress is the ultimate touchstone[.]"
Medtronic, Inc. v. Lohr, 518 U.S. 470, 485 (1996)
(quoting Retail Clerks Int'l Ass'n, Local 1625,
AFL-CIO v. Schermerhorn, 375 U.S. 96, 103 (1963)).
Congress' intent "primarily is discerned" by
examining the language of the federal statute(s) that
allegedly preempt the state law as well as the
"statutory framework" surrounding the federal
statute(s). Id. at 486 (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted). But, courts should also consider
the "structure and purpose of the statute as a whole, as
revealed not only in the text, but through the reviewing
court's reasoned understanding of the way in which
Congress intended the statute and its surrounding regulatory
scheme to affect business, consumers, and the law."
Id. (citations and internal quotation marks
addition to federal statutes, "an agency regulation with
the force of law can preempt conflicting state
requirements." Wyeth v. Levine, 555 U.S. 555,
576 (2009). However, when assessing the preemptive effect of
federal regulations, courts perform their "own conflict
determination, relying on the substance of state and federal
law and not on agency proclamations of pre-emption."
Id. Furthermore, as the Court of Special Appeals
noted in its discussion of preemption, "[f]ederal
agencies sometimes express views regarding preemption
questions in ways that lack the formality of regulations,
e.g., by compliance handbooks, other guidance materials, and
commentaries on regulations." Hosford, 229
Md.App. at 511. In such instances, "courts have afforded
some weight to the agency's explanation of its view, but
no weight to its conclusion[.]" Id. As the
Supreme Court explained in Wyeth,
In prior cases, we have given some weight to an agency's
views about the impact of [state] tort law on federal
objectives when the subject matter is technica[l] and the
relevant history and background are complex and extensive.
Even in such cases, however, we have not deferred to an
agency's conclusion that state law is
pre-empted. Rather, we have attended to an agency's
explanation of how state law affects the regulatory scheme.
While agencies have no special authority to pronounce on
pre-emption absent delegation by Congress, they do have a
unique understanding of the statutes they administer and an
attendant ability to make informed determinations about how
state requirements may pose an obstacle to the accomplishment
and execution of the full purposes and objectives of
Congress. The weight we accord the agency's explanation
of state law's impact on the federal scheme depends on
its thoroughness, consistency, and persuasiveness.
555 U.S. at 576-77 (emphasis and second alteration in
original) (citations and internal ...