North Dakota v. United States

PETITIONER: North Dakota
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Doby’s Motel Court

DOCKET NO.: 88-926
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 495 US 423 (1990)
ARGUED: Oct 31, 1989
DECIDED: May 21, 1990

ADVOCATES:
Michael R. Lazerwitz - on behalf of the Respondent
Nicholas Spaeth - on behalf of the Appellants

Facts of the case

Question

Media for North Dakota v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 31, 1989 in North Dakota v. United States

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in Number 88-926, North Dakota versus the United States.

General Speath, you may proceed.

Nicholas Spaeth:

Thank you.

Chief Justice Rehnquist, members of the Court, and may it please the Court:

It is a special privilege for me to be here because it is only two ways shy of the State of North Dakota's hundredth birthday.

The question presented in this case is whether the state, in an effort to prevent bootlegging of liquor from military enclaves, may impose a requirement on the suppliers of that liquor to the bases that requires them to put a label on each bottle destined for the military enclave indicating it is to be consumed only on the base.

Byron R. White:

Well, that isn't all the law says, is it?

You can avoid putting that label on if you do something else.

Nicholas Spaeth:

If you buy it from a local distributor, that is correct.

Byron R. White:

Oh yeah, yeah.

[Laughter]

Nicholas Spaeth:

That is correct, and pay the tax.

Byron R. White:

All right, all right.

Nicholas Spaeth:

We don't have a bootlegging problem with that, because there isn't a price differential.

And that is in fact--

Byron R. White:

Well, why would that... don't you want to keep the... you don't want... you can't even use the liquor off the base--

Nicholas Spaeth:

--That is correct.

Byron R. White:

--under this law.

Nicholas Spaeth:

That is correct.

Byron R. White:

But if you... if it is bought from a local distributor--

Nicholas Spaeth:

That is correct.

Byron R. White:

--you may take it off the base.

Nicholas Spaeth:

That is correct, because the taxes have been paid.

And--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Well, what's the purpose of the North Dakota requirement?

Nicholas Spaeth:

--To prevent bootlegging of the liquor off the base.

There is a price differential between liquor sold on the base and off the base, because off-the-base liquor sales are subject to the distribution system and the state taxation.

On-base sales are not.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

What sorts of diversions constitute the evil or the problem?

Nicholas Spaeth:

Well, if I can confine myself to answer your question, first of all, solely to the record.