Fort Gratiot Sanitary Landfill, Inc. v. Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, 504 U.S. 353 (1992)

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certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the sixth circuit

No. 91-636. Argued March 30, 1992—Decided June 1, 1992

The Waste Import Restrictions of Michigan's Solid Waste Management

Act (SWMA) provide that solid waste generated in another county, State, or country cannot be accepted for disposal unless explicitly authorized in the receiving county's plan. After St. Clair County, whose plan does not include such authorization, denied petitioner company's 1989 application for authority to accept out-of-state waste at its landfill, petitioner filed this action seeking a judgment declaring the Waste Import Restrictions invalid under the Commerce Clause and enjoining their enforcement. The District Court dismissed the complaint, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The latter court found no facial discrimination against interstate commerce because the statute does not treat outof-county waste from Michigan any differently than waste from other States. The court also ruled that there was no actual discrimination because petitioner had not alleged that all Michigan counties ban outof-state waste.

Held: The Waste Import Restrictions unambiguously discriminate against interstate commerce and are appropriately characterized as protection-ist measures that cannot withstand Commerce Clause scrutiny. Pp. 358-368. (a) Philadelphia v. New Jersey, 437 U. S. 617, 626-627, provides the proper analytical framework and controls here. Under the reasoning of that case, Michigan's Waste Import Restrictions clearly discriminate against interstate commerce, since they authorize each county to isolate itself from the national economy and, indeed, afford local waste producers complete protection from competition from out-of-state producers seeking to use local disposal areas unless a county acts affirmatively to authorize such use. Pp. 358-361. (b) This case cannot be distinguished from Philadelphia v. New Jersey on the ground, asserted by respondents, that the Waste Import Restrictions treat waste from other Michigan counties no differently than waste from other States and thus do not discriminate against interstate commerce on their face or in effect. This Court's cases teach that a State (or one of its political subdivisions) may not avoid the Commerce


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