Lawsuit Filed Over 'Right To Repair' Massachusetts Ballot Question
A group backed by many top auto makers says Massachusetts ballot Question 1 — the so-called "Right to Repair" issue — is unconstitutional, and is suing to have the measure's implementation stopped.
Question 1 was overwhelmingly approved by voters. It would give independent auto repair shops and car owners more access to vehicle data.
But the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which opposed the ballot initiative, says the new law would force auto makers — without compensation — to turn over the data, which is their private property. And they argue that violates the constitutional rights of the manufacturers.
"It is preempted under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it conflicts with federal law and policy regarding a host of consumer safety and intellectual property protections," attorneys for the alliance wrote in a 56-page complaint (PDF) filed in U.S. District Court for Massachusetts. "It also takes auto manufacturers’ private property without providing just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment as incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
The complaint also repeats many claims made by opponents of Question 1 leading up to this month's general election: releasing more data could put vehicles owners' personal information at risk; consumers can have their vehicle repaired anywhere they like; and the automotive industry already shares data with independent garages.
Supporters argued passing Question 1 would ensure independent shops could still perform repairs.
Tommy Hickey, of the Right to Repair Coalition, backed Question 1.
"We're deeply disapointed," Hickey said. "This is worth billions of dollars to them to monopolize the repair market, and they're going to fight this, and thwart the will of the voters. And we plan on fighting this."
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is named as the defendant in the lawsuit. Her office is tasked with determining the legality of proposed ballot initiatives before they go to a vote. A spokesperson declined comment.
A spokesperson for the Alliance of Automotive Innovation referred back to the court complaint when asked for comment.
The political campaign surroundig Question 1 ended up being a costly one. The two sides spent almost $50 million combined, according to state campaign finance records.