Department Of Revenue Of Oregon v. Acf Industries, Inc. - Oral Argument - November 08, 1993

Department Of Revenue Of Oregon v. Acf Industries, Inc.

Media for Department Of Revenue Of Oregon v. Acf Industries, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 24, 1994 in Department Of Revenue Of Oregon v. Acf Industries, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 08, 1993 in Department Of Revenue Of Oregon v. Acf Industries, Inc.

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in No. 92-74, Department of Revenue of Oregon v. ACF Industries.

Ms. Linder, you may proceed.

Virginia L. Linder:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case, like the one that precedes it, turns on a question of statutory interpretation.

It involves a single statute.

Section 11503 of the 4R Act prohibits certain state practices that Congress has decided unreasonably burden and discriminate against the railroad industry.

The plaintiffs in this case claim that the Oregon property tax system discriminates against them because it exempts certain categories of property from its general property tax system without giving the same exemption to the property that they own.

The question here is whether Oregon's exemption policies discriminate against railroads in any way that Congress acted to prohibit.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Now, Ms. Linder, we are concerned here only with subsection (4), is that correct?

That's the only issue before us, the meaning of that subsection (4)?

Virginia L. Linder:

Justice O'Connor, the precise question is the meaning of subsection (4).

That is the only subsection under which they proceeded.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

All right.

And it says that a state may not impose another tax that discriminates against rail carrier.

Virginia L. Linder:

Yes, Your Honor.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

All right, now, what other tax does that mean?

I mean, what's the meaning of that?

Is that other than an ad valorem property tax?

Virginia L. Linder:

Our position is that's exactly what it means.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

That's how you read it?

Virginia L. Linder:

Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

So it would cover sales taxes and gross receipts taxes and income taxes?

Virginia L. Linder:

That, the question of--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Yes?

Under your theory.

Virginia L. Linder:

--Your Honor, that's an open question.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, why wouldn't it?

I mean, if it means any other tax other than ad valorem, why doesn't it pick up all those other taxes?

Virginia L. Linder:

Taken as a matter of plain language it certainly suggests that.

Taken as a matter of structure from the act as a whole, a more narrowing definition can be given to it.