UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT DECISIONS ON-LINE

ASHLAND OIL, INC. V. CARLYL, 497 U. S. 916 (1990)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ashland Oil, Inc. v. Carlyl, 497 U.S. 916 (1990)

Ashland Oil, Inc. v. Carlyl

No. 88-421

Decided June 28, 1990

497 U.S. 916

ON APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF KANAWHA COUNTY,

WEST VIRGINIA

Syllabus

During the years at issue, West Virginia imposed a gross receipts tax on persons selling tangible property wholesale, but exempted local manufacturers. The State Tax Commissioner upheld the tax assessed on sales by appellant Ashland Oil, Inc., a Kentucky corporation, finding that the tax was constitutional. While Ashland's appeal was pending in the State Circuit Court, this Court, in Armco, Inc. v. Hardesty, 467 U. S. 638, invalidated the State's tax scheme as discriminatory against interstate commerce. The Circuit Court granted Ashland summary judgment on the basis of Armco, but the State Supreme Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Armco did not apply retroactively. On remand, the Circuit Court affirmed the Tax Commissioner's decision.

Held: Armco applies retroactively to the taxes assessed against Ashland under the rule advocated by either the dissent or the plurality in American Trucking Assns., Inc. v. Smith, 496 U. S. 167. Under the dissent's reasoning, Armco applies retroactively because constitutional decisions apply retroactively to all cases on direct review. Under the plurality's approach, the same result obtains because Armco neither overruled clear past precedent nor decided a wholly new issue of first impression and, thus, fails to meet the first prong of the retroactivity test of Chevron Oil Co. v. Huson, 404 U. S. 97, 404 U. S. 106-107.


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