Philadelphia v. New Jersey Case Brief

Summary of Philadelphia v. New Jersey
437 U.S. 617 [1978]

Relevant Facts: Operators of private landfills in New Jersey and several other cities in other states who had agreements with these operators in N.J. for waste disposal brought a suit against N.J. The PL claim the law prohibits the importation of most solid or liquid waste which originated or was collected outside the territorial limits of the U.S.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the N. Jersey law is a protectionist measure, or a law directed at legitimate local concerns with incidental effects on interstate commerce?

Court’s Holding: Economic protectionist measure.

Procedure: NJ S. Ct upheld the law’s validity. PL appealed to U.S. S.Ct. Reversed

Law or Rule(s): A1S8C3The Congress shall have Power to regulate Commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes. A1S8C18 To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing powers.

Court Rationale: Protectionism can reside in legislative means as well as legislative ends. It doesn’t matter what aim the legislation takes, or the intended purpose, of concern here is that those ends may not “discriminate against articles of commerce coming from outside the State," w/o a legitimate reason. N.J has made no claim that the waste endangers health, but that the harm is caused after disposal, and at that point, there is no basis for distinguishing out of state from in state waste.

Minority View – Quarantine laws are constitutional even if they appear to single out interstate commerce for special treatment. The State S. Ct. found that the purpose of the N.J. Law was “to preserve the health of N. J. residents by keeping their exposure to solid waste to a minimum."

Plaintiff’s Argument: The regulation’s actual purpose, hidden as a health and safety concern, environmental protection, is to suppress competition and stabilize the cost of solid waste disposal for N.J. residents.

Defendant’s Argument: The regulation’s burden on interstate commerce is slight, while the benefit of preserving the safety and health of the public is substantial.

Parochial – narrow or regional limitation.

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