No. 21–404. Argued April 18, 2022—Decided June 21, 2022
In 2018, Washington enacted a workers’ compensation law that applied
only to certain workers at a federal facility in the State who were “engaged in the performance of work, either directly or indirectly, for the
United States.” Wash. Rev. Code §51.32.187(1)(b). The facility, known
as the Hanford site, was once used by the Federal Government to develop and produce nuclear weapons, and is now undergoing a complex
decontamination process. Most workers involved in this cleanup process are federal contract workers—people employed by private companies under contract with the Federal Government. A smaller number
of workers involved in the cleanup include State employees, private
employees, and federal employees who work directly for the Federal

 As compared to Washington’s general workers’ compensation scheme, the law makes it easier for federal contract workers at
Hanford to establish their entitlement to workers’ compensation, thus
increasing workers’ compensation costs for the Federal Government.
The United States brought suit against Washington, arguing that
Washington’s law violates the Supremacy Clause by discriminating
against the Federal Government. The District Court concluded that
the law was constitutional because it fell within the scope of a federal
waiver of immunity contained in 40 U. S. C. §3172. The Ninth Circuit
Held: Washington’s law facially discriminates against the Federal Government and its contractors. Because §3172 does not clearly and unambiguously waive the Federal Government’s immunity from discriminatory state laws, Washington’s law is unconstitutional under the
Supremacy Clause. Pp. 3–11.
(a) This case is not moot. After the Court granted certiorari, Washington enacted a new statute which changed the scope of the original

law such that the workers’ compensation scheme no longer applied exclusively to Hanford site workers who work for the United States. But
a case is not moot unless it is impossible for the Court to grant any
effectual relief. Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC,
587 U. S. ___, ___. The United States asserts that a ruling in its favor
will allow it to recoup or to avoid paying millions of dollars in workers’
compensation claims. Washington disagrees, arguing that the new
statute applies retroactively and is broad enough to encompass any
claim filed under the earlier law. But it is not the Court’s practice to
interpret statutes in the first instance, Zivotofsky v. Clinton, 566 U. S.
189, 201, nor does the Court know how Washington’s state courts will
interpret the new law. It is thus not impossible for the United States
to recover money if the Court rules in its favor, and the case is not
moot. Pp. 3–4.
(b) Since McCulloch v. Maryland, 4

 Wheat. 316, this Court has interpreted the Supremacy Clause as prohibiting States from interfering
with or controlling the operations of the Federal Government. This
constitutional doctrine—often called the intergovernmental immunity
doctrine—has evolved to bar state laws that either regulate the United
States directly or discriminate against the Federal Government or its
contractors. A state law discriminates against the Federal Government or its contractors if it “single[s them] out” for less favorable
“treatment,” Washington v. United States, 460 U. S. 536, 546, or if it
regulates them unfavorably on some basis related to their governmental “status,” North Dakota v. United States, 495 U. S. 423, 438 (plurality opinion).
Washington’s law violates these principles by singling out the Federal Government for unfavorable treatment. The law explicitly treats
federal workers differently than state or private workers, and imposes
costs upon the Federal Government that state and private entities do
not bear. The law thus violates the Supremacy Clause unless Congress
has consented to such regulation through waiver. Pp. 4–6.
(c) Congress waives the Federal Government’s immunity “only when
and to the extent there is a clear congressional mandate.” Hancock v.
Train, 426 U. S. 167, 179. Washington argues that Congress has
waived federal immunity from state workers’ compensation laws on
federal lands and projects through §3172(a). Section 3172(a) says that
“[t]he state authority charged with enforcing and requiring compliance
with the state workers’ compensation laws . . . may apply [those] laws
to all land and premises in the State which the Federal Government

” as well as “to all projects, buildings, constructions, improvements, and property in the State and belonging to the Government, in
the same way and to the same extent as if the premises were under
the exclusive jurisdiction of the State.” Washington reads the statute’s

Cite as: 596 U. S. ____ (2022) 3
language broadly to effectuate a complete waiver of intergovernmental
immunity as to all workers’ compensation laws on federal lands and
projects, including workers’ compensation laws that discriminate
against the Federal Government. But one can reasonably read the
statute as containing a narrower waiver of immunity, namely, as only
authorizing a State to extend its generally applicable state workers’
compensation laws to federal lands and projects within the State. Section 3172’s waiver thus does not “clear[ly] and unambiguous[ly]” authorize a State to enact a discriminatory law that facially singles out
the Federal Government for unfavorable treatment. Goodyear Atomic
Corp. v. Miller, 486 U. S. 174, 180. Pp. 6–9.
(d) Washington’s arguments to the contrary are unconvincing.
Washington emphasizes that the waiver statute allows a State to apply its workers’ compensation laws to federal premises “as if the premises were under the exclusive jurisdiction of the State.” §3172(a). But
those words follow the phrase “in the same way and to the same extent” and, read together, the language could plausibly be interpreted
to allow only the extension of generally applicable workers’ compensation laws to federal premises.

 The statute thus does not clearly and
unambiguously permit the discrimination contained in Washington’s
“federal workers only” law. Washington next points to other congressional waivers of intergovernmental immunity that explicitly maintain
the constitutional prohibition on discriminatory state laws. But the
fact that Congress more explicitly preserved the immunity in other
contexts does not mean that Congress clearly waived it in §3172(a).
Finally, Washington relies on Goodyear Atomic, but that decision said
nothing about laws—such as the one here—that explicitly discriminate against the Federal Government. If anything, statements from
Goodyear Atomic tend to support, not undermine, the Court’s decision
today. Pp. 9–11.
994 F. 3d 994, reversed and remanded.
BREYER, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Cite as: 596 U. S. ____ (2022) 1
Opinion of the Court
NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the
preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to
notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that
corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.

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