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Consolidated Freightways Corp. of Delaware v. Raymond Kassel

United States Supreme Court
455 U.S. 329 (1981)


One of the Nation’s largest common carriers, Consolidated Freightways Corporation of Delaware (Consolidated) (plaintiff), utilized tractor-trailer trucks to deliver goods within the continental United States. One of its trucks, known as a “double,” was a 65-foot, two-axle tractor that pulled two trailers. The State of Iowa (defendant) enacted a law that prohibited the use of 65-foot tractor-trailers on its highways. Consolidated 65-foot doubles carried commodities through Iowa using Interstate 80, the principal east-west route linking New York and the West Coast and Interstate 35, a major north-south route. Consolidated filed suit in federal district court against Raymond Kassel, Iowa’s Department of Transportation director, claiming the law violated the Commerce Clause. Kassel argued that the Iowa law sought to protect highway drivers from the less safe doubles. The district court found from the evidence presented that the double was as safe as a semi and therefore there was no valid safety reason for barring doubles on Iowa highways. Kassel appealed and the court of appeals affirmed. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)

Dissent (Rehnquist, J.)

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