James M. Beam Distilling Company v. Georgia

PETITIONER: James M. Beam Distilling Company
RESPONDENT: Georgia
LOCATION: Clark County Jail

DOCKET NO.: 89-680
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1990-1991)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Georgia

CITATION: 501 US 529 (1991)
ARGUED: Oct 30, 1990
DECIDED: Jun 20, 1991

ADVOCATES:
Amelia W. Baker - on behalf of the Respondents
Morton Siegel - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for James M. Beam Distilling Company v. Georgia

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 30, 1990 in James M. Beam Distilling Company v. Georgia

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 20, 1991 in James M. Beam Distilling Company v. Georgia

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 89-680, James Beam Distilling Company against Georgia will be announced by Justice Souter.

David H. Souter:

This case comes to us on writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Before 1985, Georgia law imposed an excise tax on imported liquor at double the rate it imposed on liquor manufactured from Gerogia-grown products.

In 1984, this Court in Bacchus Imports Limited against Dias held that a similar Hawaii law violated the Commerce Clause.

Petitioner, Manufacturer and Distributor of Kentucky Bourbon, thereafter, filed an action in the Georgia State Court seeking a refund of taxes it had paid under Georgia's law for the years 1982, '83, and '84.

On the basis of our decision in Bacchus, the court declared the statute unconstitutional but refused to apply its ruling on a retroactive basis and thus, denied petitioner's request for a refund.

The State Supreme Court affirmed and the petitioners sought review by this Court on the retroactivity question.

The judgment is reversed and the case remanded.

In an opinion filed today with the Clerk of the Court in which Justice Stevens joins, I conclude that because Bacchus applied its own rule retroactively to the litigants there before the court, the rule must also be so applied to the parties in this case.

I believe this result to be demanded by principles of equality and stare decisis which do not allow this court to apply new rules of law on a selective basis.

Justice White has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment; Justice Blackmun has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in which Justice Marshall and Justice Scalia join; Justice Scalia has also filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in which Justice Marshall and Justice Blackmun join. Justice O'Connor has filed a dissenting opinion in which the Chief Justice and Justice Kennedy join.