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U.S. Supreme Court

South-Central Timber v. Wunnicke, 467 U.S. 82 (1984)

South-Central Timber Development, Inc. v. Wunnicke

No. 82-1608

Argued February 29, 1984

Decided May 22, 1984

467 U.S. 82


Pursuant to an Alaska statute, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources published a notice that it would sell certain timber from state lands under a contract requiring "primary manufacture" (partial processing) of the timber within Alaska before the successful bidder could ship it outside of the State. Petitioner, an Alaska corporation engaged in the business of purchasing timber and shipping the logs into foreign commerce, does not operate a mill in Alaska and customarily sells unprocessed logs. When it learned that the primary manufacture requirement was to be imposed on the sale of state-owned timber involved here, petitioner filed an action in Federal District Court seeking an injunction on the ground that the requirement violated the negative implications of the Commerce Clause under which States may not enact laws imposing substantial burdens on interstate and foreign commerce unless authorized by Congress. The District Court agreed and issued an injunction, but the Court of Appeals reversed. That court found it unnecessary to reach the question whether, standing alone, the requirement would violate the Commerce Clause, because it found implicit congressional authorization in the federal policy of imposing a primary manufacture requirement on timber taken from federal land in Alaska.

Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.

693 F.2d 890, reversed and remanded.

JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I and II, concluding that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that Congress has authorized Alaska's primary manufacture requirement. Although there is a clearly delineated federal policy, endorsed by Congress, imposing primary manufacture requirements as to timber taken from federal lands in Alaska for export from the United States or for shipment to other States, in order for a state regulation to be removed from the reach of the dormant Commerce Clause as being authorized by Congress, congressional intent must be unmistakably clear. The requirement that Congress affirmatively contemplate otherwise invalid state legislation is mandated by the policies underlying dormant Commerce chanrobles.com-red

Page 467 U. S. 83

Clause doctrine. The fact that Alaska's policy appears to be consistent with federal policy -- or even that state policy furthers the goals that Congress had in mind -- is an insufficient indicium of congressional intent. Congress acted only with respect to federal lands; it cannot be inferred from that fact that it intended to authorize a similar policy with respect to state lands. Pp. 467 U. S. 87-93.

WHITE, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I and II, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BRENNAN, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Parts III and IV, in which BRENNAN, BLACKMUN, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 467 U. S. 101. POWELL, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which BURGER, C.J.,joined, post, p. 467 U. S. 101. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which O'CONNOR, J., joined, post, p. 467 U. S. 101. MARSHALL, J., took no part in the decision of the case.


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