C and A Carbone v. Clarkstown Case Brief

Summary of C & A Carbone v. Clarkstown
511 U.S. 383 [1994]

Relevant Facts: Clarkstown passed an ordinance requiring that solid waste be processed at a designated transfer station before leaving the city. One company was conferred a benefit of $81 per ton, “tipping fee" a cost higher than the market and a guaranteed waste flow. Carbone began shipping its solid waste out of state to save costs.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the flow control ordinance violates the Commerce Clause?

Court’s Holding: Yes

Procedure: Town filed for injunction compelling Carbone to conform to the ordinance. St. ct sustained and issued an injunction. Reversed.

Law or Rule(s): Principle under commerce clause is that a state may not benefit in-state economic interests by burdening out-of-state competitors. Art. 1, § 8, cl. 3.

Court Rationale: The ordinance regulates commerce. The immediate effect of the ordinance is to direct local transport of solid waste to a designated site within the local jurisdiction, while the economic effects are interstate in breadth. Requiring Carbone to send waste to the transfer station, at an additional cost, the ordinance drives up the cost for out of state interests. The ordinance prevents everyone except the favored local operator from performing the initial processing step. Out of state business is denied access to a local market, thus it discriminates.

Plaintiff’s Argument: The ordinance does not discriminate, all solid waste, regardless of origin, must be processed at the station before leaving town.

Defendant’s Argument: The ordinance places an excessive economic burden upon interstate commerce by a geographic restriction.

Minority View – Clarkstown transfer station is essentially a municipal facility performing a municipal function that tradition as well as state and federal law recognizes as the domain of local government. Business lost in Clarkstown as a result of Clarkstown ordinance is not a burden on the Commerce Clause. Tax or bonds are equally disruptive. Clarkstown voters are funding their benefit by assessing themselves and paying an economic penalty, therefor economic protectionism is negated.



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