Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298, 17 (1992)

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Opinion of the Court

The State Supreme Court reviewed our recent Commerce Clause decisions and concluded that those rulings signaled a "retreat from the formalistic constrictions of a stringent physical presence test in favor of a more flexible substantive approach" and thus supported its decision not to apply Bellas Hess. 470 N. W. 2d, at 214 (citing Standard Pressed Steel Co. v. Department of Revenue of Wash., 419 U. S. 560 (1975), and Tyler Pipe Industries, Inc. v. Washington State Dept. of Revenue, 483 U. S. 232 (1987)). Although we agree with the state court's assessment of the evolution of our cases, we do not share its conclusion that this evolution indicates that the Commerce Clause ruling of Bellas Hess is no longer good law.

First, as the state court itself noted, 470 N. W. 2d, at 214, all of these cases involved taxpayers who had a physical presence in the taxing State and therefore do not directly conflict with the rule of Bellas Hess or compel that it be overruled. Second, and more importantly, although our Commerce Clause jurisprudence now favors more flexible balancing analyses, we have never intimated a desire to reject all established "bright-line" tests. Although we have not, in our review of other types of taxes, articulated the same physical-presence requirement that Bellas Hess established for sales and use taxes, that silence does not imply repudiation of the Bellas Hess rule.

Complete Auto, it is true, renounced Freeman and its progeny as "formalistic." But not all formalism is alike. Spector's formal distinction between taxes on the "privilege of doing business" and all other taxes served no purpose within our Commerce Clause jurisprudence, but stood "only as a trap for the unwary draftsman." Complete Auto, 430 U. S., at 279. In contrast, the bright-line rule of Bellas Hess furthers the ends of the dormant Commerce Clause. Undue

true: A tax may be consistent with due process and yet unduly burden interstate commerce. See, e. g., Tyler Pipe Industries, Inc. v. Washington State Dept. of Revenue, 483 U. S. 232 (1987).

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