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What Davis Means for Constitutional and Statutory Interpretation

33 Pages Posted: 30 May 2009 Last revised: 1 Aug 2009

Steve R. Johnson

Florida State University - College of Law

Date Written: May 30, 2009


When the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Department of Revenue v. Davis, the Court addressed the so called home state exemption. Resolving a conflict between state courts, a significantly divided Supreme Court held that the negative or dormant Commerce Clause does not prohibit home state exemptions. Davis can be read at any or all of three levels: economic, constitutional, and interpretational.

There will be no dearth of commentary on the economic and constitutional dimensions of Davis. Thus, this article is principally concerned with the interpretational dimension.

In brief, the striking interpretational aspect of Davis is its heavy reliance on the fact that the challenged practice is widespread and of long standing. Advocates should consider Davis when external context arguments plausibly inhere in future tax cases.

Keywords: Commerce Clause, constitutional interpretation, statutory interpretation, state tax exemptions

JEL Classification: E62, H20, H71, K34

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Steve R., What Davis Means for Constitutional and Statutory Interpretation (May 30, 2009). State Tax Notes, Vol. 48, p. 877, 2008; UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-14. Available at SSRN:

Steve Johnson (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Room R210
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States
850-644-1777 (Phone)


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