Pike v. Bruce Church

397 U.S. 137, 90 S. Ct. 844 (1970)



Where a statute regulates even-handedly to effectuate a legitimate local public interest, and its effects on interstate commerce are only incidental, it will be upheld unless the burden imposed on such commerce is clearly excessive in relation to the putative local benefits. If a legitimate local purpose is found, then the question becomes one of degree. And the extent of the burden that will be tolerated will of course depend on the nature of the local interest involved, and on whether it could be promoted as well with a lesser impact on interstate activities. Occasionally, the United States Supreme Court has candidly undertaken a balancing approach in resolving these issues, but more frequently it has spoken in terms of "direct" and "indirect" effects and burdens.


A provision of the Arizona Fruit and Vegetable Standardization Act, Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3-503 (Supp. 1969), prohibited interstate shipment of cantaloupes not packed in regular compact arrangements in closed standard containers. Invoking his authority under that provision, appellant issued an order that prohibited appellee from transporting uncrated cantaloupes from its ranch in Arizona to California for packing and processing. Appellee then brought an action in federal court to enjoin the order as unconstitutional, which issued a permanent injunction upon the ground that the challenged order constituted an unlawful burden upon interstate commerce.


Is the Act unconstitutional for having a negative effect on interstate commerce?




On appeal, the United States Supreme Court reviewed the record and recognized the State's interest to promote and preserve the reputation of Arizona growers by prohibiting deceptive packaging. However, the Court refused to accord that interest much weight when balancing it against the burden on interstate commerce. Despite the statutory provision's unchallenged existence and the legitimacy of the State's interest, the Court determined that the interest was not important enough to justify the burden on interstate commerce.

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