Kassel v. Consolidated Freightways Corporation of Delaware

PETITIONER: Kassel
RESPONDENT: Consolidated Freightways Corporation of Delaware
LOCATION: Dames & Moore

DOCKET NO.: 79-1320
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 450 US 662 (1981)
ARGUED: Nov 04, 1980
DECIDED: Mar 24, 1981

ADVOCATES:
John H. Lederer - on behalf of the Appellee
Mark E. Schantz - on behalf of the Appellants

Facts of the case

An Iowa law restricted the length of vehicles traveling on its highways. Iowa justified the law as a reasonable use of its police power to assure safety on the state's roads.

Question

Did the law pose an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce?

Media for Kassel v. Consolidated Freightways Corporation of Delaware

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 04, 1980 in Kassel v. Consolidated Freightways Corporation of Delaware

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 24, 1981 in Kassel v. Consolidated Freightways Corporation of Delaware

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment of the Court in Kassel, the Director of Transportation against the Consolidated Freightways Corporation of Delaware will be announced by Justice Powell.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

This case is here on appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

The question presented is whether an Iowa's statute that bans certain large trucks from its highways violates the Commerce Clause.

Respondent, Consolidated Freightways, is a large common carrier about truck.

The type of truck band is a 65-foot unit consisting of a truck -- tractor pulling two trailers.

All other states in the West and Midwest except Iowa, allow these doubles on principled highways.

Both the District Court and the Court of Appeals agreed with Consolidated that the Iowa statute violates the Commerce Clause.

In opinions filed today we affirm a plurality of the Court relying on our 1978 decision in Raymond Motors against Rice agreed with the court's below that the Iowa ban is an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce.

Our past decisions reflect a high degree of deference to state laws that further safety.

In this case however the evidence at the trial and the District Court so found that doubles are as safe as other trucks that Iowa permits to use its highways.

Absent of safety justification and as this ban plainly disrupts the interstate flow of commerce.

We hold that the statute creates an impermissible burden on such commerce.

Justice Brennan had an opinion joined by Justice Marshall, agrees that the Iowa law is invalid. They conclude for the reasons set forth in that separate opinion that the ban on this type of truck is an invalid discrimination against interstate commerce.

Justice Rehnquist has filed a dissenting opinion in which the Chief Justice and Justice Stewart have joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Powell.