Once a state law is shown to discriminate against interstate commerce either on its face or in practical effect, the burden falls on the state to demonstrate both that the statute serves a legitimate local purpose, and that this purpose could not be served as well by available nondiscriminatory means.
Defendant operated a bait business. Despite the state statute prohibiting the importation of live baitfish, defendant arranged to have live bait delivered to him from outside the state. The shipment was intercepted and defendant was indicted under § 3(a)(2)(A) of the Lacey Act Amendments. The trial court convicted him but on appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed defendant's conviction on the ground that the state statute impermissibly restricted interstate trade. The case was elevated to the Supreme Court of the United States on appeal.
Did the state statute impermissibly restricte interstate trade?
The Supreme Court held that defendant's conviction was not clearly erroneous since evidence showed that no alternative means existed to promote the local purpose as well without discriminating against interstate commerce. The abstract possibility of developing acceptable testing procedures did not make those procedures an available nondiscriminatory alternative. As such, the state statute permissibly served a legitimate local purpose and defendant's conviction was proper.