QUILL CORP. v. NORTH DAKOTA, BY AND THROUGH ITS TAX COMMISSIONER, HEITKAMP

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
91-194
Petitioner 
Quill Corp.
Respondent 
North Dakota, By And Through Its Tax Commissioner, Heitkamp
Advocates
(on behalf of the Petitioner)
(on behalf of the Respondent)
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Facts of the Case 

Through its Tax Commissioner, the state of North Dakota filed an action in state court to force the Quill Corporation, an out-of-state mail-order office equipment retailer, to charge a North Dakota use tax on Quill merchandise to be used within the state. The state court ruled in favor of Quill, grounding its decision on Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Department of Revenue of Illinois, 386 U.S. 753 _. In this 1967 case, the United States Supreme court found a similar Illinois statute to be in violation of both the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed, basing its decision on a rejection of _Bellas Hess in light of the "tremendous social, economic, commercial, and legal innovations" since it had been decided.

Question 

1) Had Bellas Hess become obsolete? 2) Was North Dakota's imposition of a use tax upon the merchandise of the Quill Corporation in compliance with the Due Process Clause and the Commerce Clause?

Conclusion 
Decision: 8 votes for Quill Corp., 1 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

No and No. In a majority opinion authored by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court admitted that, over time, subsequent cases have allowed for more flexibility than Bellas Hess. Nevertheless, the Court maintained that this evolution does not suggest a rejection of Bellas Hess. The Court also determined that North Dakota's imposition of the use tax did not constitute a breach of the Due Process Clause because the Quill Corporation had sufficient contact with the state's residents and benefited from the state's tax revenue. However, it found the use tax to be unconstitutional because it interfered with interstate commerce, rendering it a violation of the Commerce Clause. Consequently, the Court reversed the North Dakota Supreme Court's decision by ruling in favor of the Quill Corporation.

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QUILL CORP. v. NORTH DAKOTA, BY AND THROUGH ITS TAX COMMISSIONER, HEITKAMP. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 22 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_91_194>.
QUILL CORP. v. NORTH DAKOTA, BY AND THROUGH ITS TAX COMMISSIONER, HEITKAMP, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_91_194 (last visited October 22, 2014).
"QUILL CORP. v. NORTH DAKOTA, BY AND THROUGH ITS TAX COMMISSIONER, HEITKAMP," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 22, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_91_194.