Maine v. Taylor
477 U.S. 131 (1986)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Maine v. Taylor, 477 U.S. 131 (1986)

Maine v. Taylor

No. 85-62

Argued March 24, 1986

Decided June 23, 1986

477 U.S. 131

Syllabus

Appellee bait dealer (appellee) arranged to have live baitfish imported into Maine, despite a Maine statute prohibiting such importation. He was indicted under a federal statute making it a federal crime to transport fish in interstate commerce in violation of state law. He moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the Maine statute unconstitutionally burdened interstate commerce, and Maine intervened to defend the validity of its statute. After an evidentiary hearing, the District Court denied the motion to dismiss and held the state statute constitutional. The court found that substantial uncertainties surrounded the effects that baitfish parasites and nonnative species would have on the State's wild fish population, and that less discriminatory means of protecting against those threats were currently unavailable. Appellee then entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving the right to appeal the District Court's constitutional ruling. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the state statute was unconstitutional.

Held:

1. Maine is entitled to invoke this Court's jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1254(2). Nothing in the language or history of § 1254(2) suggests that its scope is limited to civil litigation. The fact that Maine was only an intervenor in the District Court does not deprive it of standing to pursue this appeal, because its stake in the outcome is substantial and the controversy remains live, notwithstanding the Federal Government's decision to abandon its own appeal. Pp. 477 U. S. 133-137.

2. The Maine statute is constitutional. The federal statute under which appellee was convicted did not waive the requirement of Hughes v. Oklahoma,441 U. S. 322, that where a state statute, such as Maine's import ban, discriminates against interstate commerce either on its face or in practical effect, the State must show both that the statute serves a legitimate local purpose, and that this purpose cannot be served as well by available nondiscriminatory means. But the evidence amply supports the District Court's findings that Maine has made both showings. Under the "clearly erroneous" standard of review applicable to these findings, the Court of Appeals erred in setting them aside. Pp. 477 U. S. 137-152.

752 F.2d 757, reversed.

Page 477 U. S. 132

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 477 U. S. 152.

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