American Trucking Assns., Inc. v. Michigan Pub. Serv. Comm'n, No. 03-1230.

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtJustice Breyer
Citation162 L. Ed. 2d 407,125 S. Ct. 2419,545 U.S. 429
Decision Date20 June 2005
Docket NumberNo. 03-1230.
PartiesAMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS, INC., ET AL. v. MICHIGAN PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION ET AL.
545 U.S. 429
125 S. Ct. 2419
162 L. Ed. 2d 407
AMERICAN TRUCKING ASSOCIATIONS, INC., ET AL.
v.
MICHIGAN PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION ET AL.
No. 03-1230.
Supreme Court of United States.
Argued April 26, 2005.
Decided June 20, 2005.

Petitioners, a trucking company engaged in both interstate and intrastate hauling and a trucking association, asked Michigan courts to invalidate the State's flat $100 annual fee imposed on trucks engaged in intrastate commercial hauling, see Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 478.2(1), claiming that it discriminates against interstate carriers and imposes an unconstitutional burden on interstate trade because trucks carrying both interstate and intrastate loads engage in less intrastate business than trucks carrying only intrastate loads. The State Court of Claims rejected the claim, holding that, because the fee is regulatory and intended for the Michigan Motor Carrier Act's administration, it is not amenable to apportionment; that it is an appropriate exercise of the State's police power; and that it does not implicate the Commerce Clause because it falls only on intrastate commerce. The State Court of Appeals affirmed, and the State Supreme Court declined review.

Held: Michigan's fee does not violate the dormant Commerce Clause. That Clause prevents a State from "jeopardizing the welfare of the Nation as a whole" by "plac[ing] burdens on the flow of commerce across its borders that commerce wholly within those borders would not bear." Oklahoma Tax Comm'n v. Jefferson Lines, Inc., 514 U. S. 175, 180. Applying this Court's dormant Commerce Clause principles and precedents here, nothing in § 478.2(1) offends the Commerce Clause. The flat fee is imposed only on intrastate transactions. It does not facially discriminate against interstate or out-of-state activities or enterprises. It applies evenhandedly to all carriers making domestic journeys and does not reflect an effort to tax activity taking place outside of the State. Nothing in this Court's case law suggests that such a neutral, locally focused fee or tax is inconsistent with the dormant Commerce Clause. That is not surprising, since States impose numerous flat fees on local business and service providers, e. g., insurers and auctioneers. The Constitution neither displaces States' authority to shelter their people from health and safety menaces nor unduly curtails their power to lay taxes to support state government. The record, moreover, shows no special circumstances suggesting that Michigan's fee operates as anything other than an unobjectionable exercise of the State's police power.

[545 U.S. 430]

Neither does it show that the flat assessment unfairly discriminates against interstate truckers. Because the costs the fee seeks to defray, e. g., those of regulating vehicular size and weight, would seem more likely to vary per truck or per carrier than per mile traveled, a per-truck, rather than a per-mile, assessment is likely fair. And petitioners provide no details of their preferred alternative miles-traveled system or point to evidence of its practicality. Nor is there any reason to infer that the State's lump-sum levy on purely local activity erects an impermissible discriminatory roadblock. American Trucking Assns., Inc. v. Scheiner, 483 U. S. 266, distinguished. As for petitioners' "internal consistency" argument — that if every State did the same as Michigan, an interstate trucker doing local business in multiple States would have to pay a fee of several hundred or thousand dollars — any interstate firm with local outlets normally expects to pay local fees uniformly assessed on all those engaging in local business. Pp. 433-438.

255 Mich. App. 589, 662 N. W. 2d 784, affirmed.

BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and STEVENS, O'CONNOR, KENNEDY, SOUTER, and GINSBURG, JJ., joined. SCALIA, J., post, p. 439, and THOMAS, J., filed opinions concurring in the judgment.

CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MICHIGAN

Robert Digges, Jr., argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were Charles Rothfeld and Evan Tager.

Henry J. Boynton, Assistant Solicitor General of Michigan, argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Michael A. Cox, Attorney General, Thomas L. Casey, Solicitor General, and David A. Voges, Michael A. Nickerson, Glenn R. White, and Emmanuel B. Odunlami, Assistant Attorneys General.

Malcolm L. Stewart argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging affirmance. With him on the brief were Acting Solicitor General Clement, Assistant Attorney General Keisler, Deputy Solicitor General Kneedler, Mark B. Stern, Sushma Soni, Jeffrey A. Rosen, Paul M. Geier, and Dale C. Andrews.*

[545 U.S. 431]

JUSTICE BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court.


In this case, we consider whether a flat $100 fee that Michigan charges trucks engaging in intrastate commercial hauling violates the dormant Commerce Clause. We hold that it does not.

I

A subsection of Michigan's Motor Carrier Act imposes upon each motor carrier "for the administration of this act, an annual fee of $100.00 for each self-propelled motor vehicle operated by or on behalf of the motor carrier." Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 478.2(1) (West 2002). The provision assesses the fee upon, and only upon, vehicles that engage in intrastate commercial operations — that is, on trucks that undertake point-to-point hauls between Michigan cities. See Westlake Transp., Inc. v. Michigan Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 255 Mich. App. 589, 592-594, 662 N. W. 2d 784, 789 (2003). Petitioners, USF Holland, Inc., a trucking company with trucks that engage in both interstate and intrastate hauling, and the American Trucking Associations, Inc. (ATA), asked the Michigan courts to invalidate the provision. Both petitioners

545 U.S. 432

told those courts that trucks that carry both interstate and intrastate loads engage in intrastate business less than trucks that confine their operations to the Great Lakes State. Hence, because Michigan's fee is flat, it discriminates against interstate carriers and imposes an unconstitutional burden upon interstate trade.

The Michigan Court of Claims rejected the carriers' claim for three reasons. First, the $100 fee "is regulatory and intended" for the Motor Carrier Act's administration, which includes "regulation of vehicular size and weight, insurance requirements and safety standards." App. to Pet. for Cert. 44a. Such a fee "is not amenable to a fee structure based on apportionment by usage rates." Ibid. Second, the fee reflects a "legitimate expression of the [S]tate's concern that the welfare of its citizens be protected," and hence an appropriate exercise of the State's police power. Ibid. Third, the fee does not implicate the Commerce Clause because it falls only on intrastate, not interstate, commerce. Id., at 45a.

The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed. It did not agree that the intrastate nature of § 478.2(1) sheltered the fee from Commerce Clause scrutiny. 255 Mich. App., at 617-619, 662 N. W. 2d, at 802. Nonetheless, the court rejected the truckers' claim because the statute "regulates evenhandedly," id., at 621, 662 N. W. 2d, at 804, and because the record lacked any "evidence that any trucking firm's route choices [were] affected by the imposition of the fee," id., at 621, 662 N. W. 2d, at 803-804. Rather, the record indicated that any "effect . . . on interstate commerce is incidental," rendering the truckers' claim of discrimination "a matter of pure speculation." Ibid.

The Michigan Supreme Court denied petitioners leave to appeal. Westlake Transp., Inc. v. Michigan Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 469 Mich. 976, 673 N. W. 2d 752 (2003). We granted their petition for certiorari and consolidated the case with Mid-Con Freight Systems, Inc. v. Michigan Pub. Serv. Comm'n, post, p. 440, a case in which interstate truckers

545 U.S. 433

sought review of a separate state motor carrier fee. We now affirm the Michigan court's judgment sustaining § 478.2(1).

II

Our Constitution "was framed upon the theory that the peoples of the several states must sink or swim together." Baldwin v. G. A. F. Seelig, Inc., 294 U. S. 511, 523 (1935). Thus, this Court has consistently held that the Constitution's express grant to Congress of the power to "regulate Commerce . . . among the several States," Art. I, § 8, cl. 3, contains "a further, negative command, known as the dormant Commerce Clause," Oklahoma Tax Comm'n v. Jefferson Lines, Inc., 514 U. S. 175, 179 (1995), that "create[s] an area of trade free from interference by the States," Boston Stock Exchange v. State Tax Comm'n, 429 U. S. 318, 328 (1977) (internal quotation marks omitted). This negative command prevents a State from "jeopardizing the welfare of the Nation as a whole" by "plac[ing] burdens on the flow of commerce across its borders that commerce wholly within those borders would not bear." Jefferson Lines, supra, at 180.

Thus, we have found unconstitutional state regulations that unjustifiably discriminate...

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  • Coors Brewing Co. v. Mendez–torres, Civil No. 06–2150(DRD).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • March 30, 2011
    ...across its borders that commerce wholly within those borders would not bear.”Am. Trucking Ass'ns, Inc. v. Michigan Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 545 U.S. 429, 433, 125 S.Ct. 2419, 162 L.Ed.2d 407 (2005) (internal citations omitted). “The dormant Commerce Clause sets two complementary boundaries for st......
  • In the Matter of Assessment of Personal Property Taxes against Missouri Gas Energy, 2008 OK 94 (Okla. 10/21/2008), No. 103355
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • October 21, 2008
    ...Clause as "our wardrobe of ever-changing negative Commerce Clause fashions." Am. Trucking Ass'ns, Inc., v. Michigan Public Service Comm'n, 545 U.S. 429, 439, 125 S. Ct. 2419, 2426, 162 L. Ed.2d 407 (2005) (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment). He has called the Court's current test "eminentl......
  • Illinois Restaurant Ass'n v. City of Chicago, No. 06 C 7014.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • June 12, 2007
    ...of commerce." Alliant Energy Corp. v. Bie, 330 F.3d 904, 911 (7th Cir.2003); American Trucking Ass'n v. Mich. Pub. Serv., Commission, 545 U.S. 429, 433, 125 S.Ct. 2419, 162 L.Ed.2d 407 The dormant Commerce Clause is generally analyzed using a two-tier approach. Under the first tier, the cou......
  • Northwest Energetic Serv. V. Franchise Tax, No. A114805.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 31, 2008
    ...Levy burdens interstate commerce. For this proposition, FTB relies on American Trucking Assns., Inc. v. Michigan Pub. Serv. Comm'n. (2005) 545 U.S. 429, 125 S.Ct. 2419, 162 L.Ed.2d 407 (American Trucking). FTB is In American Trucking, Michigan imposed a flat $100 annual fee upon trucks enga......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
107 cases
  • Coors Brewing Co. v. Mendez–torres, Civil No. 06–2150(DRD).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • March 30, 2011
    ...across its borders that commerce wholly within those borders would not bear.”Am. Trucking Ass'ns, Inc. v. Michigan Pub. Serv. Comm'n, 545 U.S. 429, 433, 125 S.Ct. 2419, 162 L.Ed.2d 407 (2005) (internal citations omitted). “The dormant Commerce Clause sets two complementary boundaries for st......
  • In the Matter of Assessment of Personal Property Taxes against Missouri Gas Energy, 2008 OK 94 (Okla. 10/21/2008), No. 103355
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • October 21, 2008
    ...Clause as "our wardrobe of ever-changing negative Commerce Clause fashions." Am. Trucking Ass'ns, Inc., v. Michigan Public Service Comm'n, 545 U.S. 429, 439, 125 S. Ct. 2419, 2426, 162 L. Ed.2d 407 (2005) (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment). He has called the Court's current test "eminentl......
  • Illinois Restaurant Ass'n v. City of Chicago, No. 06 C 7014.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • June 12, 2007
    ...of commerce." Alliant Energy Corp. v. Bie, 330 F.3d 904, 911 (7th Cir.2003); American Trucking Ass'n v. Mich. Pub. Serv., Commission, 545 U.S. 429, 433, 125 S.Ct. 2419, 162 L.Ed.2d 407 The dormant Commerce Clause is generally analyzed using a two-tier approach. Under the first tier, the cou......
  • Northwest Energetic Serv. V. Franchise Tax, No. A114805.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 31, 2008
    ...Levy burdens interstate commerce. For this proposition, FTB relies on American Trucking Assns., Inc. v. Michigan Pub. Serv. Comm'n. (2005) 545 U.S. 429, 125 S.Ct. 2419, 162 L.Ed.2d 407 (American Trucking). FTB is In American Trucking, Michigan imposed a flat $100 annual fee upon trucks enga......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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