The Framers of the U.S. Constitution adopted the
Import-Export Clause to prohibit the states from
interfering in international relations, to preserve import
revenue for the federal government, and to ensure
harmony between the states. The purposive inquiry
established by Michelin and Washington Stevedoring is
applied for all imports and exports except one category:
export goods in transit. The pre-Michelin decision,
Richfield Oil, provides complete constitutional tax
immunity for export goods in transit. This island of
constitutional tax immunity forces local taxpayers to
subsidize exporters and foreign consumers and unfairly
burdens coastal states with the regulatory,
administrative, and environmental costs of shipping
exports with no means to tax the beneficiaries of these
services. This Note urges the Supreme Court to overturn
Richfield Oil and apply the Michelin approach
uniformly to import and export goods, in accordance
with the text and purpose of the Import-Export Clause.
Smith, Warren F.
"Sinking the Island of Constitutional Tax Immunity: A Uniform Approach to State Taxes on Goods in Transit Under the Import-Export Clause,"
Georgia Law Review: Vol. 53:
2, Article 7.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/glr/vol53/iss2/7