Supreme Court will decide if online retailers must collect sales tax

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley on U.S. Supreme Court's decision to accept the state's case on online sales taxes 1/12/18. Video from the Attorney General's office

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to review the results of the way Texas' political boundaries were drawn, which could have ramifications this November that affect both the makeup of the Legislature and the state's congressional delegation.

In the 1967 decision in National Bellas Hess v. Illinois, the Court ruled that states had he constitutional power to collect sales tax from retailers who actually had stores, warehouses or another "physical presence" inside that state.

The high court's decision to take the case is a short-term win for Texas' Republican leaders who, in an effort to preserve the maps in question, had appealed two lower court rulings that invalidated parts of the state's maps. Law professor Rick Hasen from the University of California, Irvine, an election law expert, summarized the cases as "big, important, and exceedingly complex".

A three-judge panel last summer found that two of the Texas congressional districts violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, and were intentionally discriminatory. The company opted in 2017 to begin collecting sales tax in all 50 states for goods its sells itself, leaving the decision up to third-party sellers on its marketplace - many of whom opt not to, according to Bloomberg.

To that end, 36 states have joined South Dakota's legal crusade, urging the Supreme Court to reverse its earlier ruling.


Similar legislation was introduced past year with bipartisan support, but the effort has stalled in Congress because House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteRosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee next week Conservative pressure on Sessions grows Clock ticking down on NSA surveillance powers MORE (R-Va.) has wanted to take a different approach on the issue. They say that the ruling is unfair to them and to bricks-and-mortar retailers within their borders that have no choice but to collect the taxes. "The burdens will fall primarily on small and medium-size companies whose access to a national market will be stifled", said lawyers for Wayfair, Overstock.com and Newegg. "The action throughout the nation is extensive and complex", the state's appeal said.

Texas' primary argument is that its 2013 maps are shielded from review because they were drawn by a court - even if they were drawn under rushed circumstances, and even if they did, in many respects, use the state-drawn 2011 maps as a template. This comes after years of controversy and litigation surrounding the district maps, which were first legally challenged in 2011 after the Texas Legislature drafted new state and congressional districts to keep up with the state's quickly expanding population.

The case is expected to draw a long list of supporters and opponents of South Dakota's challenge.

Such officers must be appointed by the president, the head of a federal agency or by a court. His case was heard by an administrative law judge, and he received a lifetime ban from investment-related work.

The case is Lucia v. SEC.

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