Polar Tankers, Inc. v. City of Valdez (U.S. Supreme Court)
Polar Tankers, Inc. challenged a municipal ordinance that imposed a tax on certain boats and vessels. The ordinance contained several exceptions that largely limited its applicability to large oil tankers. After the Alaska Supreme Court upheld the tax, we filed a petition for certiorari on behalf of Polar Tankers to determine whether, consistent with the Tonnage Clause (U.S. Const. art. I, § 10, cl. 3), states may impose property taxes that target vessels that frequent the states’ ports, and whether, consistent with the Commerce Clause (U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 3) and Equal Protection Clause (U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1), states may tax out-of-state vessels for the period of time that they spend on the high seas. The Supreme Court granted our petition and, by a vote of 7-2, agreed with our position that the tax violated the Tonnage Clause.