Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, Barnwell Brothers, Inc. (Plaintiff) challenged a state law prohibiting the operation of trucks on state highways as an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A state law placing width and weight limitations on trucks operating on state highways does not impose an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce so as to violate the United States Constitution’s (Constitution) Commerce Clause.
Since the adoption of one weight or width regulation, rather than another, is a legislative and not a judicial choice, its constitutionality is not to be determined by weighing in the judicial scales the merits of the legislative choice and rejecting it if the weight of evidence presented in court appears to favor a different standard.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Does a state law imposing restrictions on weight and width of trucks that use state roads violate the Constitution’s commerce clause?
Held. No, state regulations limiting width and weight of trucks operated on state highways does not violate the Constitution’s commerce clause. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) first pointed out that Congress decided not to regulate the weight and width of motor vehicles and left that power to the States. The Supreme Court also recognized that South Carolina had a great local concern in passing its regulations. Further, since South Carolina’s regulations were nondiscriminatory, they were appropriate.
Discussion. The state has a primary and immediate concern in taking care of their highways. The state may impose nondiscriminatory restrictions with respect to the character of motor vehicles moving in interstate commerce as a safety measure and as a means of securing the economical use of its highways. The regulatory measures taken by South Carolina are within its legislative power and they do not violate the Constitution’s commerce clause.