Toomer v. Witsell 334 U.S. 385 (1948)

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TOOMER v. WITSELL 334 U.S. 385 (1948)

South Carolina required state residents to pay a $25-per-boat license fee to gather shrimp in state waters; for nonresidents, the fee was $2,500. The Supreme Court, speaking through Chief Justice fred m. vinson, held that this discrimination violated both the privileges and immunities clause of Article IV and the commerce clause. (See state regulation of commerce.) The commerce ground was easy and unanimously supported by the Justices. The decision's main importance lay in its approach to the privileges and immunities clause; on this issue the Court divided, 6–3. Earlier decisions had suggested that the clause protected only "fundamental rights." Toomer redirected the inquiry: discrimination against nonresidents was permissible only if it bore a substantial relation to solving a problem distinctively presented by nonresidents. South Carolina's discriminatory tax failed this test.

Kenneth L. Karst