Exxon Corporation v. Governor of Maryland

PETITIONER:Exxon Corporation et al.
RESPONDENT:Governor of Maryland et al.
LOCATION:Exxon Headquarters

DOCKET NO.: 77-10
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Maryland Court of Appeals

CITATION: 437 US 117 (1978)
ARGUED: Feb 28, 1978
DECIDED: Jun 14, 1978

William H. Simon – argued the cause for the appellants

Facts of the case

Maryland observed oil producer-operated stations receiving favorable rates from producers and refiners. In response, Maryland passed a statute prohibiting oil producers or refiners from operating gasoline stations within the state and requiring producers and refiners extend temporary price cuts to the stations they supplied. Exxon challenged the statute in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, which ruled the statute invalid. The Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the ruling.


(1) Does Maryland’s statute violate the Due Process and Commerce Clauses of the Constitution?

(2) Does Maryland’s statute conflict with the Robinson-Patman Act?

Media for Exxon Corporation v. Governor of Maryland

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – February 28, 1978 in Exxon Corporation v. Governor of Maryland

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 14, 1978 in Exxon Corporation v. Governor of Maryland

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and opinions of the court in 77-10, Exxon Corporation against Maryland and the consolidated related cases will be announced Mr. Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

Unlike other cases to be announced today, this case has nothing to do with the Double Jeopardy clause.

This case arises from the highest court of State of Maryland and is an appeal in which several oil companies challenged the constitutionality of the Maryland statute enacted in 1973 involving the retail distribution of gasoline within that state.

The statute has two features which were challenged in the litigation.

First, it prohibits companies which own oil refineries or producing facilities from operating retail stations and secondly it provides that if an oil company grants a voluntary allowance which is a form of price reduction to any station which it serves it must grant the same price reduction to all stations which it serves throughout the state.

The devastator provision of the statute was challenged on the ground that violates substantive due process and also violates the Interstate Commerce clause of the United States Constitution.

The voluntary allowance part of the statute was challenged on the ground that it conflicts with the portion of the Robinson-Patman Act which allows a seller to meet competition in good faith without violating the Federal Statute.

We reject the constitutional attacks on this statute and affirm the judgment of the Maryland Court of Appeals which upheld the statute.

Mr. Justice Powell did not participate in the consideration or decision of the case.

Mr. Justice Blackmun has filed the dissenting opinion, disagreeing with the Court on the Commerce clause analysis.

Our constitutional holding of course does not endorse in any way of wisdom of this particular legislation.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Stevens.