EXXON CORP. v. GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND
Maryland observed oil producer-operated stations receiving favorable rates from producers and refiners. In response, Maryland passed a statute prohibiting oil producers or refiners from operating gasoline stations within the state and requiring producers and refiners extend temporary price cuts to the stations they supplied. Exxon challenged the statute in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, which ruled the statute invalid. The Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the ruling.
(1) Does Maryland's statute violate the Due Process and Commerce Clauses of the Constitution?
(2) Does Maryland's statute conflict with the Robinson-Patman Act?
Legal provision: Due Process
No and no. In a 7-1 decision, the Court affirmed the Maryland Court of Appeals. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens cited Ferguson v. Skrupa establishing that the purpose of the judiciary is not to "weigh the wisdom of legislation," and therefore did not concern due process. Additionally, since all gasoline sold in Maryland came from out-of-state refineries, Maryland's statute did not discriminate against interstate commerce. The court acknowledged that while the price-cut provision conflicted with the purposes of the Robinson-Patman and Sherman Acts, the hypothetical situations of price discrimination presented were "speculative" and insufficient to invalidate the act. Justice Harry A. Blackmun wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. did not take part in consideration or decision of this case.