The question before us is whether a Washington State workers’ compensation

[June 21, 2022]
JUSTICE BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Constitution’s Supremacy Clause generally immunizes the Federal Government from state laws that directly
regulate or discriminate against it. See South Carolina v.
Baker, 485 U. S. 505, 523 (1988). Congress, however, can
authorize such laws by waiving this constitutional immunity. See Goodyear Atomic Corp. v. Miller, 486 U. S. 174, 180
This case concerns state workers’ compensation laws.
Congress has enacted a statute that waives the Federal
Government’s constitutional immunity insofar as a “state
authority charged with enforcing . . . the state workers’
compensation laws . . . appl[ies] the laws” to land or projects
“belonging to the [Federal] Government, in the same way
and to the same extent as if the premises were under the
exclusive jurisdiction of the State.”

 40 U. S. C. §3172(a).
The question before us is whether a Washington State
workers’ compensation law falls within the scope of this
congressional waiver. The state law, by its terms, applies
only to federal workers who work at one federal facility in
Washington. The law makes it easier for these workers to

Opinion of the Court
obtain workers’ compensation, thus raising workers’ compensation costs for the Federal Government. We conclude
that the state law discriminates against the Federal Government and falls outside the scope of Congress’ waiver.
We therefore hold that the law is unconstitutional under
the Supremacy Clause.
During World War II, the Federal Government acquired
a large tract of land in Washington State known as the Hanford site. The Government used the site to develop and produce nuclear weapons, generating a massive amount of
chemical and radioactive waste.

 After the Cold War, the
Federal Government began the process of decommissioning
and cleaning up the nuclear site. The process has proved to
be enormously complex. It is expected to require decades of
time and billions of dollars. Most of the workers involved
in the 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 project include federal employees who
work directly for the Federal Government, state employees
who work for the State of Washington, and private employees who work for private companies not under contract with
the Federal Government.
In 2018, Washington enacted a workers’ compensation
law that, by its terms, applied only to Hanford site workers
“engaged in the performance of work, either directly or indirectly, for the United States.” Wash. Rev. Code
§51.32.187(1)(b). Despite the literal language of this statute, another provision of Washington law makes clear—and
all parties here agree—that the statute applies only to federal contract workers and not to federal employees. See
§51.12.060; Brief for United States 8, n. 4; Brief for Respondents 13. This is because Congress’ waiver of immunity does not extend to those whom the Federal Government

Cite as: 596 U. S. ____ (2022) 3
Opinion of the Court
employs directly. See 40 U. S. C. §3172(c).
As compared to the general state workers’ compensation
regime, Washington’s law makes it easier for federal contract workers at Hanford to establish their entitlement to
workers’ compensation. In particular, the statute creates a
causal presumption that certain diseases and illnesses are
caused by the cleanup work at Hanford. See Wash. Rev.
Code §§51.32.187(2), (3), (4). The presumption is rebuttable
only by clear and convincing evidence. §51.32.187(2)(b).
And the presumption lasts for a worker’s entire life, even
after the worker’s time at Hanford ends. §51.32.187(5)(a).
Because the Federal Government pays workers’ compensation claims for federal contractors at Hanford, see App. 48–
50, Washington’s law increases workers’ compensation
costs for the Federal Government.
The United States brought suit against Washington, arguing that its law violated the Supremacy Clause by discriminating against the Federal Government. The District
Court concluded that the state law fell within the scope of
the federal waiver of immunity contained in 40 U. S. C.
§3172 and was therefore constitutional. The Ninth Circuit
affirmed. See 994 F. 3d 994, 1012 (2020). We granted certiorari to determine the constitutionality of Washington’s
Washington first claims that this case is moot. After we
granted certiorari, Washington enacted a new statute, see
S. 5890, 67th Leg., Reg. Sess. (2022), which changed the
scope of the original law. The law’s causal presumption no
longer applies exclusively to Hanford site workers who
“work, either directly or indirectly, for the United States.”
§51.32.187(1)(b). Instead, under the new law, the presumption applies more broadly to any “worker working at a radiological hazardous waste facility.” 2022 Wash. Sess. Laws

Opinion of the Court
p. 437. This new law, Washington argues, does not discriminate against the Federal Government, and its enactment
thus moots the present dispute.
A case is not moot, however, unless “‘it is impossible for
[us] to grant any effectual relief.’” Mission Product Holdings, Inc. v. Tempnology, LLC, 587 U. S. ___, ___ 

(2019) (slip
op., at 6) (quoting Chafin v. Chafin, 568 U. S. 165, 172
(2013)). If there is money at stake, the case is not moot.
See 587 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 6). The United States asserts that, if we rule in its favor, it will either recoup or
avoid paying between $17 million and $37 million in workers’ compensation claims that lower courts have awarded
under the earlier law. See Response in Opposition to Suggestion of Mootness 11–12. Some of these claims are not
yet final because they are still on appeal. See Reply in Support of Suggestion of Mootness 12. Washington argues that,
even if the United States wins, the Government will not recover or avoid any payments because the new statute applies retroactively and is broad enough to encompass any
claim filed under the earlier law. But it is not our practice
to interpret statutes in the first instance, Zivotofsky v. Clinton, 566 U. S. 189, 201 (2012), and we decline to do so here
by deciding the retroactivity or breadth of Washington’s
new law. Nor do we know how Washington’s state courts
will resolve these questions. It is thus not “impossible” that
the United States will recover money if we rule in its favor,
and this case is not moot

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