State and Local Legal Center Reviews the Supreme Court Cases of 2014-2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

This week the State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) published summaries of this term’s U.S. Supreme Court cases that are important to State and Local Governments. In this guide, the SLLC highlights not only “The Big Cases” but also cases in which the GFOA and other members of the SLLC signed an amicus brief, directing the court to consider the broad legal effects of the court’s decision to state and local governments. The guide includes:

  • King v. Burwell. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that health insurance tax credits are available on the 34 federal exchanges. This case was watched closely, as the decision would once again confirm the Affordable Care Act as law. 
  • Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl. Since 2010, the State of Colorado has required remote sellers to provide Colorado purchasers with an annual summary of their purchases and to send the same information to the Colorado Department of Revenue. The Direct Marketing Association sued Colorado in federal court, claiming that these requirements are unconstitutional under Quill Corp v. North Dakota (1992). In a unanimous decision, the court held that the Tax Injunction Act does not bar federal court from deciding this case, which may not “enjoin, suspend, or restrain the assessment, levy, or collection of any tax under state law.”
  • Comptroller v. Wynne. In a 5-4 decision, the court held that the State of Maryland’s failure to offer residents a full credit against income taxes paid to other states violates the dormant Commerce Clause. GFOA and the SLLC had filed an amicus brief on this case in which SLLC asked the Supreme Court to consider that a sovereign’s relationship with its actual, living residents is qualitatively different than the one that it shares with other taxpayers such as corporations or non-residents.

Just before summer recess, the Supreme Court agreed to review a number of significant cases affecting state and local governments. Stay tuned and visit for updates as the Supreme Court enters another exciting session.