American Trucking Associations Inc v. Smith

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Concurring Opinion
Dissenting Opinion

United States Supreme Court

496 U.S. 167

American Trucking Associations Inc  v.  Smith

No. 88-325  Argued: March 22, 1989. --- Decided: Dec 6, 1989


In 1983 petitioners brought suit in an Arkansas Chancery Court, alleging that the flat tax portion of that State's Highway Use Equalization (HUE) tax discriminated against interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause by imposing on out-of-state truckers greater per-mile costs than those imposed on in-state truckers, who are likely to drive many more miles on the State's highways. Petitioners sought a refund of all HUE taxes paid. In affirming the Chancery Court's ruling that the tax was constitutional, the State Supreme Court relied on this Court's decisions upholding flat taxes in Capitol Greyhound Lines v. Brice, 339 U.S. 542, 70 S.Ct. 806, 94 L.Ed. 1053, Aero Mayflower Transit Co. v. Board of Railroad Comm'rs of Mont., 332 U.S. 495, 68 S.Ct. 167, 92 L.Ed. 99, and Aero Mayflower Transit Co. v. Georgia Public Service Comm'n, 295 U.S. 285, 55 S.Ct. 709, 79 L.Ed. 1439, and explicitly rejected petitioners' argument that Complete Auto Transit, Inc. v. Brady, 430 U.S. 274, 97 S.Ct. 1076, overruled the Aero Mayflower line of cases. On June 23, 1987, this Court ruled, in American Trucking Assns., Inc. v. Scheiner, 483 U.S. 266, 107 S.Ct. 2829, 97 L.Ed.2d 226, that unapportioned flat highway use taxes penalize travel within a free trade area among the States in violation of the Commerce Clause. Subsequently, this Court vacated the Arkansas Supreme Court's judgment and remanded the case for further consideration in light of Scheiner. After that court denied petitioners' motion seeking, inter alia, an order to escrow the HUE taxes to be collected pending a final decision on the merits, Justice BLACKMUN, as Circuit Justice, ordered such an escrow on August 14, 1987. The State Supreme Court then reconsidered the HUE tax in light of Scheiner and ruled it unconstitutional. However, the court declined to order refunds for taxes paid before the August escrow order, holding that under the test enunciated in Chevron Oil Co. v. Huson, 404 U.S. 97, 106-107, 92 S.Ct. 349, 355-356, 30 L.Ed.2d 296, Scheiner should not be applied retroactively. The court nevertheless determined that the tax money paid into escrow after the August order should be refunded.

Held: The judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case is remanded.

295 Ark. 43, 746 S.W.2d 377, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).