U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upholds Michigan truck fees

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously June 20 that Michigan’s flat $100 annual fee imposed on in-state trucks does not constitute an undue burden on commerce between states.

The decision is a defeat for the plaintiffs, the American Trucking Associations and USF Holland. They argued the fee discriminates against interstate carriers, which would pay much less if charged not per truck but only per miles driven within Michigan.

The flat fee is imposed only on in-state transactions and does not discriminate against interstate or out-of-state activities, the court ruled in American Trucking Associations vs. Michigan Public Service Commission. The regulation applies evenhandedly to all carriers making domestic journeys and does not reflect an effort to tax activity taking place outside the state, the court said.

Because the costs the fee seeks to defray – regulating vehicular size and weight – would seem more likely to vary per truck or per carrier than per mile traveled, a per-truck assessment is likely fair, the court said.

The Supreme Court also ruled 7-2, in Mid-Con Freight Systems vs. Michigan Public Service Commission, that the $100 flat fee did not violate federal laws governing federal truck permits. That decision also was announced June 20.

Both decisions can be read in full as PDF files at the U.S. Supreme Court website.