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Hunt v. Washington State APple Advertising Commision, 432 U.S. 333 (1977) p.289


interstate commerce clause


The Washington State Apple Advertising Commission brought action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina statute which in effect prohibits the display of Washington State apple grades on closed containers shipped into the state.


A Three-Judge District Court, granted the requested relief, 408 F.Supp. 857, and defendants appealed.


Whether the North Carolina law violates the commerce clause.


The NC law violates the commerce clause. Where North Carolina statute had caused some Washington apple growers and dealers to obliterate Washington State grades from large volume of closed containers destined for North Carolina market at cost ranging from five to 15 cents per carton, had abandoned the use of preprinted containers thus diminishing efficiency of their marketing operations and had lost accounts in North Carolina, such injuries were direct and sufficient to establish the requisite "case or controversy" between Washington apple producers and North Carolina officials.


The Supreme Court, Mr. Chief Justice Burger, held that: (1) the Commission's status as a state agency, rather than a traditional voluntary membership organization, did not preclude it from asserting, in a representational capacity, claims of Washington apple growers and dealers who formed its constituency, notwithstanding that "membership" was "compelled" in the form of mandatory assessments; (2) record, including sales volume and compliance costs among other matters, precluded conclusion "to a legal certainty" that such losses and expenses would not, if they had not done so already, amount to the requisite $10,000 for at least some of individual growers and dealers and thus jurisdictional requirement of $10,000 in controversy was met, and (3) challenged statute violates commerce clause insofar as it prohibits the display of Washington State grades even if enacted for the declared purpose of protecting consumers from deception and fraud in the market place. Affirmed.


The law had the practical effect of not only burdening interstate sales of Washington apples, but also discriminating against them.

Created on: Monday, October 18, 1999 at 16:03:01 (PDT)

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