Citation. 437 U.S. 117, 98 S. Ct. 2207, 57 L. Ed. 2d 91, 1978 U.S.
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Brief Fact Summary.
The state of Maryland enacted a statute prohibiting producers or refiners of petroleum products from operating any retail service stations within the state. Some refiners challenged the constitutionality of the statute.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
In the absence of a relevant congressional declaration of policy, or a showing of a specific discrimination against, or burdening of, interstate commerce, the States may regulate commerce.
The state of Maryland enacted a statute prohibiting producers or refiners of petroleum products from operating any retail service stations within the state. The statute was designed for the apparent purpose of correcting irregularities in the distribution and pricing of gasoline. Some refiners, in a challenge to the constitutionality of the statute, introduced evidence to show that their ownership of retail service stations brings significant benefits to the consuming public and that the statute would weaken independent refiners.
Did the Maryland statute unconstitutionally burden interstate commerce?
No. The judgment of the lower court is affirmed.
The Maryland statute is non-discriminatory. It plainly does not discriminate against out of state products, nor does it favor in-state producers or refiners. Maryland’s entire gasoline supply is shipped in from out-of-state suppliers. There are no producers or refiners in Maryland to receive preferential treatment.
The Maryland statute does not burden interstate commerce. Although it may be true that the consuming public in Maryland will be injured and that some independent refiners will be weakened, these things do not amount to a burden on interstate commerce.
Justice Harry A. Blackmun stated that discrimination need not appear on the face of a statute to be unconstitutional. Although facially neutral, the effect of the Maryland statute is to protect in-state retail service station dealers from the competition of out-of-state business.