City of Philadelphia v. New Jersey


New Jersey instituted a law that banned the importation of disposable waste from out of staters.  New Jersey instituted the law because it had a problem with large amounts of waste dumping that exceeded the state’s capacity to for proper disposal.  The state contended that the regulation was instituted to further the state’s public health.


Whether a state regulation that specifically targets out of state actors undertaking waste dumping within the state’s borders violates the interstate commerce clause.


Yes, NJ law is invalidated.  The state regulation at issue represents a dormant commerce clause issue because the law seeks to regulate interstate commerce and contravenes the economic interest of another state.  The court looks at the state law and reviews whether the law promotes a legitimate state interest, such that the obstruction of interstate commerce becomes “incidental.”  However, the state regulation is not “incidental” where it seeks to stop the flow of interstate commerce for the purpose of economic protectionism through the discrimination of out of staters.

The court holds that the NJ law’s effects on interstate are not “incidental” because it seeks to discriminate against out of staters in order to insulate itself from a problem of public waste disposal, which is a problem that is common to all states.  The regulation is not merely addressing a local issue; other surrounding states have the same problem as well.  Outlawing out of staters from disposing waste within the NJ state borders is conceptually similar to undertaking a broader economic protectionist measure.  The court cannot distinguish the two.

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