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    This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.

11-CSX-AL on Nov 10, 2010

Decided Feb 22, 2011
Case Ruling: CSX v. ALABAMA
Alabama requires railroads that purchase diesel fuel to pay the 4% sales tax. Alabama exempts from the sales tax the main competitors of railroads--interstate motor and water carriers. The federal Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act (4R) prohibits four forms of taxation that discriminate railroads. Three prohibitions concern property taxes. A fourth forbids a State to “impose another tax that discriminates against a rail carrier.” CSX seeks to prohibit Alabama from collecting the State sales tax from CSX.


The State's collection at issue here is a tax. There is nothing in 4R that limits its definition to only an income tax. The plaintiff does not complain about the tax exemption given to others, it complains about the sales tax it must pay when other carriers do not. Discrimination means “the failure to treat all persons equally when no reasonable distinction can be found between those favored and those not.” Competitors in interstate transportation get a tax exemption that railroads do not. These facts state a case worthy of considering by Alabama as to whether its tax exemptions discriminate against railroads in violation of 4R.

DISSENT: Compared to broader tax base, no discrimination provable Filed by THOMAS; joined by GINSBURG

I would find that, in its context within 4R, the “another tax” clause harkens back to the three previous examples of discriminatory taxes given, all of which concern discriminatory tax policy in comparison with the class of other “commercial and industrial” taxpayers. CSX will not be able to show it was taxed differently than the general class of “commercial and industrial” taxpayers. The State's allowance of exemptions from a generally applicable tax to a few “commercial and industrial” taxpayers do not make the generally applicable tax discriminatory.

    Participating counts on VoteMatch question 11. Question 11: Higher taxes on the wealthy Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
  • Topic: Tax Reform
  • Headline: Railroads can sue for tax exemptions on other diesel users (Score: -1)
  • Headline 2: Discriminatory fuel sales tax on railroads ok (Score: 1)

    Participating counts on AmericansElect question 1.
  • Headline: Railroads can sue for tax exemptions on other diesel users (Answer: A)
  • Headline 2: Discriminatory fuel sales tax on railroads ok (Answer: E)
  • AmericansElect Quiz Question 1 on Economy: When you think about the US budget deficit, which of the following solutions is closest to your opinion?
    • A: Cutting existing programs
    • B: More spending cuts than tax increases (mix of both solutions)
    • C: More tax increases than spending cuts (mix of both solutions)
    • D: Raising Taxes
    • E: Unsure

  • Key for participation codes:
  • Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
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  • Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
  • Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
  • Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.

Democrats participating in 11-CSX-AL

Stephen Breyer j1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg j2dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Elena Kagan w1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Sonia Sotomayor j1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 

Republicans participating in 11-CSX-AL

Samuel Alito j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Anthony Kennedy j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
John Roberts j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Antonin Scalia j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Clarence Thomas w2dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 

Independents participating in 11-CSX-AL

Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

Democrats: 4
Republicans: 5
Independents: 0

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