U.S. Supreme Court Examines Meaning of "Small Business" & Changes In Commerce

Apr 24, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court Front row, left to right: Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer. Back row: Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.
Credit Franz Jantzen, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

SD Attorney General Marty Jackley
Credit Attorney General's Office

The U.S. Supreme Court is now deliberating whether it should amend or overrule its Quill opinion. That 1992 decision holds that Congress has the constitutional authority to regulate commerce among the states. And absent congressional action, states can't force businesses with no physical presence in the state to collect state sales taxes.

South Dakota went before the U.S. Supreme Court last week to argue that Quill is outdated, in light of changes in commerce since 1992. Attorney General Marty Jackley argued that small businesses within South Dakota's borders are facing unfair competition from online vendors.

But Wayfair says the nature of small and mid-sized businesses has also evolved since Quill, and the marketplace is organically righting itself. Wayfair's attorney, George Isaacson, says if Quill is overturned, small businesses that sell online will be priced out of competing.

Wayfair attorney George Isaacson
Credit Courtesy of Brann & Isaacson

The Supreme Court made the audio public last Friday. SDPB's Victoria Wicks summarizes these arguments.

To listen to oral arguments and follow along with the transcript, click on this link, and then click on the audio symbol at the left side of the page: