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Supreme Court hears garbage fees case

  Breaking Legal News  -   POSTED: 2007/01/09 06:34

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in United Haulers Association v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority 05-1345, a case concerning whether a local ordinance would violate the Commerce Clause by requiring New York trash haulers to deliver all solid wastes to a publicly owned local facility. Lawyers for the trash companies argued that using out-of-state transfer facilities would cost significantly less than the using the county's mandated facilities. Defense lawyers for the government-owned waste management authority countered that the non-discriminatory government operation of the transfer facilities does not benefit a private company and that the ordinance should thus be allowed to stand; the petitioners point out that the county is in fact profiting from the mandate. The US Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the county.

In 1994, the Court held 6-3 in C & A Carbone, Inc. v. Town of Clarkstown that a similar ordinance unconstitutionally restricted interstate commerce; in that instance, the mandated facility was privately owned. The issue now before the court will turn on whether a government-owned facility can be seen as analogous to a profit-seeking private company and thus would be in violation of the Commerce Clause. Five of the six justices who signed the 1994 majority opinion remain on the bench; of the three dissenters, only Justice David Souter remains.


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