Opinion of the Court
these reasons, we disagree with the North Dakota Supreme Court's conclusion that the time has come to renounce the bright-line test of Bellas Hess.
This aspect of our decision is made easier by the fact that the underlying issue is not only one that Congress may be better qualified to resolve,10 but also one that Congress has the ultimate power to resolve. No matter how we evaluate the burdens that use taxes impose on interstate commerce, Congress remains free to disagree with our conclusions. See Prudential Insurance Co. v. Benjamin, 328 U. S. 408 (1946). Indeed, in recent years Congress has considered legislation that would "overrule" the Bellas Hess rule.11 Its
decision not to take action in this direction may, of course, have been dictated by respect for our holding in Bellas Hess that the Due Process Clause prohibits States from imposing such taxes, but today we have put that problem to rest. Accordingly, Congress is now free to decide whether, when, and to what extent the States may burden interstate mail-order concerns with a duty to collect use taxes.
Indeed, even if we were convinced that Bellas Hess was inconsistent with our Commerce Clause jurisprudence, "this very fact [might] giv[e us] pause and counse[l] withholding our hand, at least for now. Congress has the power to protect interstate commerce from intolerable or even undesirable burdens." Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Montana, 453 U. S., at 637 (White, J., concurring). In this situation, it
10 Many States have enacted use taxes. See App. 3 to Brief for Direct Marketing Association as Amicus Curiae. An overruling of Bellas Hess might raise thorny questions concerning the retroactive application of those taxes and might trigger substantial unanticipated liability for mail-order houses. The precise allocation of such burdens is better resolved by Congress rather than this Court.
11 See, e. g., H. R. 2230, 101st Cong., 1st Sess. (1989); S. 480, 101st Cong., 1st Sess. (1989); S. 2368, 100th Cong., 2d Sess. (1988); H. R. 3521, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. (1987); S. 1099, 100th Cong., 1st Sess. (1987); H. R. 3549, 99th Cong., 1st Sess. (1985); S. 983, 96th Cong., 1st Sess. (1979); S. 282, 93d Cong., 1st Sess. (1973).Page: Index Previous 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Next
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