Waste Association Declares New Michigan Ordinance Unconstitutional
Wayne County, MI— The National Solid Wastes Management
Association, together with Republic Services of Michigan, LLC, filed a
complaint against Wayne County Executive Robert A. Ficano and Wayne County
regarding a recently enacted Wayne County ordinance explicitly aimed at
impeding the disposal of out-of-state and Canadian- generated municipal
waste in Wayne County landfills. The lawsuit, filed in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, challenges the ordinance
because it violates a number of key provisions of the United States Constitution.
The ordinance says no landfill in Wayne County can receive
waste generated from any jurisdiction outside the county that does not
have a beverage container deposit law consistent with that currently in
effect in Michigan. Under the new ordinance, landfill operators would
be subject to substantial fines of up to $10,000 per day, as well as potential
imprisonment, for violations.
The lawsuit challenges the new ordinance because it
allegedly violates a host of important constitutional principles, including:
• The Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution,
which authorizes Congress to “regulate commerce with foreign nations
and among the states.”
• Foreign Commerce Clause, which restricts protectionist
policies and restrains states and local government bodies from excessive
interference in foreign affairs.
• The Foreign Affairs Power, which gives powers
to only the federal government, not local or state governments, to deal
with international trade issues.
• Due process rights of Wayne County landfill operators.
“We regret the need to seek relief through the
courts, however, we must act to protect our members’ constitutional
rights,” said Bruce Parker, President. “The Framers of the
Constitution adopted the Commerce Clause to encourage commerce among the
states and with foreign nations. The Wayne County ordinance is in clear
contradiction to this principle. The Commerce Clause is based on the notion
that state and local governments cannot restrict interstate or international
commerce, and promotes an open and competitive national marketplace —
principles that have served the nation well for over 200 years.”
A federal Court of Appeals recently struck down a Wisconsin
law similar to the Wayne County ordinance. The court rejected this law
based on several of the same constitutional principles advanced in the
lawsuit against Wayne County by NSWMA and Republic Services.