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Polar Tankers, Inc. v. City of Valdez

Docket No.: 08-310
Certiorari Granted: Dec 12 2008
Argued: April 1, 2009
Decided: June 15, 2009

PartyNames: Polar Tankers, Inc. v. City of Valdez, Alaska
Petitioner: Polar Tankers, Inc.
Respondent: City of Valdez, Alaska

Court Below: Supreme Court of Alaska

Polar Tankers, Inc.
v.
City of Valdez, Alaska
Question Presented:

1. Whether a municipal personal property tax that falls exclusively on large vessels using the municipality's harbor violates the Tonnage Clause of the Constitution, art. I, ยง 10, cl. 3.2. Whether a municipal personal property tax that is apportioned to reach the value of property with an out-of-State domicile for periods when the property is on the high seas or otherwise outside the taxing jurisdiction of any State violates the Commerce and Due Process Clauses of the Constitution.

Question:

1) Does a municipal property tax that falls exclusively on large vessels and uses an apportionment method for out of state vessels violate the Due Process Clause of the Constitution? 2) Does it violate the Commerce Clause of the Constitution? 3) Does it violate the Tonnage Clause of the Constitution?

Holding: reversed and remanded
Vote: 7-2
Read POLAR TANKERS, INC. V. CITY OF VALDEZ opinion (PDF)