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Kassel v. COnsolidated Freightways Corp., 450 U.S. 662 (1981) p.306


dormant commerce clause


Iowa statute that prohibited trucks of more than 60 feet from passing through Iowa. Truck companies sued.


Whether an Iowa statute that prohibits the use of certain large trucks unconstitutionally burdens interstate commerce.


Iowa has imposed this burden without any significant countervailing safety interest and its statute violates the Commerce Clause.


It is far from clear that Iowa was motivated primarily by a judgment that 65 foot doubles are less safe than 55 foot singles. On the question of safety, the District OCurt found that the evidence clearly establishes that a twin trailer truck is as safe as a single. The total effect of the law as a safety measure in reducing accidents and casualties is so slight and problematic that it does not outweigh the national interest in keeping interstate commerce free from interferences that seriously impede it. The statutory exemptions, their history, and the arguments Iowa has advanced in support of its law in this litigation, all suggest that the deference traditionally accorded a State's safety judgment is not warranted [the court rejected the state's saftey argument].


Brennan CONCURRING(Marshall joined):
with all respect the cours asks and asnwers the wrong questions. For me, the analysis of Commerce Cluase challenges to state regulations must take into account three principles. 1. the courts are not empowered to second guess the empirical judgments of lawmakers concerning the utility of legislation; 2. the burdens imposed on commerce must be balanced against the local benefits actually sought to be achieved the the states lawmakers and not against those suggestaed after the fact by counsel; 3. protecionalist legislation is unconstitutional under the Commerce CLuse, even if the burdens and benefits are related to safety rather than economics. The safet advantages involved in this case are irrelevant to the decision.

Created on: Monday, October 18, 1999 at 16:19:39 (PDT)

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