Multistate – Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc., 397 U.S. 137 (1970)


Primary Holding

Even if a law does not discriminate on its face against interstate commerce, it is not permissible if the burdens greatly exceed the benefits to local commerce.


Bruce Church, Inc. was an agricultural company that operated in California and Arizona. It sent the cantaloupes that it cultivated in Arizona to its packing facilities in California, which were 30 miles away. The cantaloupes were sent in bulk and were not packed in crates. This method clashed with an Arizona law that required all cantaloupes grown in the state to be packed there before leaving it. Pike, who was responsible for enforcing the law, ordered Bruce Church to cease using its current transportation method.

Bruce Church argued that the law violated the Dormant Commerce Clause doctrine by imposing a burden on interstate commerce. It claimed that it would need to spend $200,000 to build and operate a packing facility in Arizona in order to comply with the law. The lower court granted an injunction against the enforcement of the law.

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