United Haulers Assn. v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Mgmt. Auth.

United Haulers Assn. v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Mgmt. Auth.

Litigants=United Haulers Assn., Inc. v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Mgmt. Auth.
ArgueDate=January 9
DecideDate=April 30
FullName=United Haulers Assn., Inc. v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Mgmt. Auth.
Holding=United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed.
JoinMajority=Souter, Ginsberg, Breyer
JoinDissent=Stevens, Kennedy
LawsApplied=Dormant Commerce Clause

"United Haulers Assn., Inc. v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Mgmt. Auth.", 550 U.S. ___ (2007), was a United States Supreme Court case about interstate commerce. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion of the Court, holding that a New York state ordinance forcing private waste management companies to deliver waste to a public facility did not discriminate against interstate commerce. Justice Samuel Alito wrote a dissent.


The plaintiff, United Haulers, a not-for-profit corporation made up of waste management companies, sued the New York counties of Oneida and Herkimer, which controlled the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. United Haulers claimed that county ordinances requiring all solid wastes and recyclables generated within the two counties to be delivered to one of several waste processing facilities owned by the Authority violated the Dormant Commerce Clause.

Procedural history

The district court ruled in favor of United Haulers, based on the Supreme Court's holding in "Carbone v. Clarkstown." The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, reasoning that the public benefit outweighed any restriction on interstate commerce. United Haulers appealed, and the Supreme Court granted "certiorari."



Does an ordinance requiring delivery of all solid waste to a publicly owned local facility impose a substantial burden on interstate commerce and therefore violate the Commerce Clause?

Opinion of the Court

Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the Court, held that the law did not violate the dormant commerce clause.

In "Carbone v. Clarkstown," [511 U. S. 383 (1994)] the Court struck down a similar flow control ordinance that forced haulers to deliver waste to a private processing facility. Here, the Court held that because the facilities were owned and operated by a state-created public benefit corporation, the restriction was permissible. "Disposing of trash," Roebrts wrote, "has been a traditional government activity for years, and laws that favor the government in such areas— but treat every private business, whether in-state or out-of-state, exactly the same—do not discriminate against interstate commerce for purposes of the Commerce Clause." The Court applied the balancing test from "Pike v. Bruce Church" [397 U. S. 137 (1970)] to determine that the local benefits outweigh the interstate commerce concerns.

calia's Concurrence

Justice Scalia agreed with the Court's holding, and wrote separately to restate his opinion that "the so-called 'negative' Commerce Clause is an unjustified judicial invention, not to be expanded beyond its existing domain." Scalia also objected to the use of the "Pike" test.

Thomas's Concurrence

Justice Thomas agreed with the Court's holding, and wrote separately to refute his earlier Commerce Clause opinion in "Carbone," stating that "the negative Commerce Clause has no basis in the Constitution and has proved unworkable in practice."


Justice Alito, joined by Justices Stevens and Kennedy, dissented from the Court's holding, stating that the facts in this case did not differ enough from those in "Carbone" to justify the opposite result.

External links

* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dormant_Commerce_Clause#Oneida-Herkeimer Dormant Commerce Clause]
* [http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/06pdf/05-1345.pdf Slip opinion at SupremeCourtUs.gov] (docket information)
* [http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/05-1345.ZS.html full text] (HTML with links to precedent, statutes, and U.S. Constitution)


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