Colonial Pipeline Company v. Traigle

PETITIONER: Colonial Pipeline Company
RESPONDENT: Joseph N. Triagle, Collector of Revenue of Louisiana
LOCATION: Louisiana Department of Revenue

DOCKET NO.: 73-1595
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: Louisiana Supreme Court

CITATION: 421 US 100 (1975)
ARGUED: Jan 13, 1975
DECIDED: Apr 28, 1975

ADVOCATES:
R. Gordon Kean, Jr. - for appellant
Whit M. Cook, II - for appellee, pro hac vice, by special leave of Court

Facts of the case

Colonial Pipeline Company is a Delaware corporation that operates a pipeline running from Texas to New York carrying petroleum. Colonial challenged a Louisiana corporation franchise tax, stating that all of their business in Louisiana was interstate. Colonial maintained no offices in Louisiana and delivered no petroleum intrastate, but they did have several employees in Louisiana. The Louisiana Court of Appeal held the tax unconstitutional as a state regulation on interstate commerce. The Supreme Court of Louisiana reversed, holding that the tax was not on interstate commerce, but on corporate business done in Louisiana.

Question

Is the Louisiana corporate franchise tax an unconstitutional tax on interstate commerce?

Media for Colonial Pipeline Company v. Traigle

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 13, 1975 in Colonial Pipeline Company v. Traigle

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 28, 1975 in Colonial Pipeline Company v. Traigle

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 73-1595, Colonial Pipeline Company against Traigle will be announced by Mr. Justice Brennan.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

This case is here from the Supreme Court of Louisiana.

The appellant, Colonial Pipeline Company is an interstate pipeline engaged exclusively in interstate business.

The Louisiana Supreme Court held however that as a foreign corporation qualified to carry on and actually carrying on business in Louisiana in corporate form, Colonial gained the benefits and protections from Louisiana, a value and importance to its business and therefore that Colonial can be required to pay Louisiana's franchise tax without violating the Commerce Clause.

We agree and affirmed.

Mr. Justice Blackmun has filed a concurring opinion in which Mr. Justice Rehnquist joins.

Mr. Justice Stewart has filed a dissenting opinion.

Mr. Justice Douglas took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Brennan.