Supreme Court upholds Michigan truck fees

| 6/21/2005

If you haul in Michigan, there is no relief in sight from the state’s $100 annual fee – on June 20 the Supreme Court rejected arguments against the state’s truck fee structure.

Michigan charges $100 in annual fees for trucks registered in the state and for trucks registered in other states that transport freight between two Michigan cities.

Two groups –the ATA and Mid-Con Freight Systems – challenged the fees in January. The ATA argued that the fees were in violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution because they affect interstate commerce, according to The Associated Press.

Mid-Con Freight Systems, meanwhile, argued that Section 40 of the U.S. Code 15404, the federal law that defines the Single State Registration System, pre-empts the law. That law limits participating states to a $10 annual fee.

The Supreme Court dismissed the first case because it said it lacked “convincing evidence showing that the tax deters, or for that matter discriminates against, interstate activities,” according to a majority ruling written by Justice Stephen Bryer.

In the second case, the court found that the Michigan fees were not in conflict with the federal regulations.

Justice Anthony Kennedy dissented, along with Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The three expressed concerns over the majority’s interpretation of the law.

According to The AP, Kennedy wrote in his dissent that the majority used “flawed textual analysis and dubious inferences from legislative silence to impose the court’s view of what it thinks Congress probably wanted to say. In my view, this is a mistake.”