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American Can Co. v. Oregon Liquor Control Comm'n

Citation: 2 ELR 20642
No. No. 75567, 4 ERC 1584/(Or. Cir. Ct., 09/01/1972)

Oregon's 1971 Bottle Bill, outlawing tab-top cans and imposing a minimum refund value for all other beer and soft-drink containers, is held constitutional. Plaintiffs, container manufacturers, bottlers, and out-of-state breweries, seek to have the act declared unconstitutional on five grounds: that it imposes an undue burden on interstate commerce; that it violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Const.; that it violates the privileges and immunities clause of the Ore. Const.; that it violates the due process clause of the U.S. Const.; and the due process clause of the Ore. Const.Finding first that the legislation is not of the type specifically authorized by amend. XXI of the U.S. Const., the court disposes of all arguments except that of the Commerce Clause with a conclusion that the act is a reasonable exercise of the state's police power, and that there is no invidious discrimination against selected industries. The most analogous Commerce Clause precedents are found to be recent district court opinions in Florida and Indiana upholding bans on phosphate detergents and a 1954 Vermont case affirming the prohibition of beer sold in non-returnable glass containers.Recent federal statutes encouraging state regulation of environmental matters are also cited in finding no conflict with the Commerce Clause.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
George L. Wagner
520 S.W. Yamhill St.
Portland, Oregon 97204

Frederic R. Yerke
621 S.W. Morrison St.
Portland, Oregon 97205

Counsel for Defendants
John B. Leahy Ass't Attorney General
State of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Oregon Environmental Council
Prof. Hans Linde
School of Law
University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Natural Resources Defense Council
John Bryson
664 Hamilton Ave.
Palo Alto, California 94301