Maryland v. Louisiana

LOCATION: Home of George Summers

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)

CITATION: 451 US 725 (1981)
ARGUED: Jan 19, 1981
DECIDED: May 26, 1981

Eugene Gressman - for the defendant
Frank J. Peragine - for intervenor Pipeline Companies
Robert G. Pugh, Jr. - for the defendant
Stephen H. Sachs - for plaintiff States
Stuart A. Smith - for United States

Facts of the case


Media for Maryland v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 19, 1981 in Maryland v. Louisiana

Warren E. Burger:

The Court will hear arguments first this morning in case of the State of Maryland against the State of Louisiana, an original jurisdiction case.

Mr. Sachs, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Stephen H. Sachs:

Thank you very much Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

This original action challenges the validity of Louisiana's First-Use Tax on natural gas and its companion measures that comes to the Court on exceptions, the two reports of the Special Master.

In his report of May 14, 1980, the Special Master recommended among other things that the Court grant the motions to intervene of the United States of the seventeen pipeline companies and of the State of New Jersey.

In his report of September 15, 1980, he recommended denial of Louisiana's motion to dismiss and denial of the eight plaintiff States' motion for judgment on the pleading.

With the Court's permission, I would like to discuss the operation of the statutory scheme with particular emphasis on its facial and intended discrimination against interstate commerce.

Next, the Solicitor General speak to the scheme's interference with the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and finally, Mr. Peragine, on behalf of the pipelines will speak to their motion to intervene as well as to certain Commerce Clause issues.

May it please the Court, this Court some 30 years ago, in Dean Milk Company v. Madison recognized that a state statute which would be clearly invalid which -- and I quote the Court artlessly disclosed and a valid purpose to discriminate against interstate commerce.

This, we respectfully suggest to the Court, is such a case and it falls even more squarely within this Court's recent precedence of Boston Stock Exchange against the New York Tax Commission and the City of Philadelphia against New Jersey.

Because, Your Honors, nothing emerges more clearly from the 115 pages of legislative history which you have before you and from the statutory scheme itself, than the compulsive concern of Louisiana to export this tax.

William H. Rehnquist:

General Sachs.

Stephen H. Sachs:

Yes sir.

William H. Rehnquist:

Before you get to the so-called merits of the case, is it your opinion that Illinois -- Illinois versus Milwaukee completely overruled Ohio versus Wyandotte?

Stephen H. Sachs:

No, Your Honor, it is not our opinion that Illinois against City of Milwaukee overrules Ohio against Wyandotte nor as our opinion that this case is controlled by this Court's disposition of the application for reasons of jurisdiction in Arizona against New Mexico.

Those cases, Your Honor, were not exclusive within the exclusive jurisdiction of this Court.

Both the Illinois case and the Ohio case were cases within the original jurisdiction but not controlled -- not controlled by Section 1251 of the Judiciary Act, which gives this Court exclusive jurisdiction.

Furthermore, may I say, Your Honor that this case is far from the kind of case that impacts the common law notions of nuisance as involved in one of those cases.

It's far from the kind of case that impacts scientific testimony and scientific evidence that would have been required as Mr. Justice Harlan, I think, said in the Ohio case with Mr. Justice Douglas perhaps in the Illinois case.

This is a case which impacts 30 states of this union and which test whether or not one state at the time of energy crisis can, in what we claim to be flagrant violation of the original principles of the Commerce Clause, can impose its will on other states.

And so, Your Honor, for both jurisdictional reasons, as well as prudential reasons, we think this case is radically different from both the Ohio case and the Illinois case.

And may I also add, Your Honor, if I may, that in Arizona against New Mexico, there is not the slightest suggestion that we can find that the suggestion of whether or not the states can get an alternative hearing in some other forum is in any way overruled.

And it's worth to point out, I think, Your Honor, that here, we can go no place else.

There is no other forum where Maryland or her sister states who are plaintiffs can be heard and so for all those reasons, Your Honor, we feel that this case is quite properly here.

William H. Rehnquist:

Maryland is (Inaudible)

Stephen H. Sachs:

We are here in both capacities Your Honor.

William H. Rehnquist:

I realize that.

Stephen H. Sachs:

And we -- and I make the same assertion in both capacities.

We are here very much like Pennsylvania.

It was here some 50 years ago in a suit against West Virginia in which very similar contentions were being made when one state thereby, by simply cutting off supply, was having impact on the State and it citizens.