Thursday, November 14, 2013

Minneapolis Star & Tribune Co. v. Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue case brief

Minneapolis Star & Tribune Co. v. Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue case brief summary
460 U.S. 575 (1983)

Petitioner newspaper instituted an action against respondent Minnesota Commissioner of Revenue, seeking a refund of use taxes paid pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 297A.14 (1982). The Supreme Court of Minnesota upheld the tax against a federal constitutional challenge. The newspaper sought a writ of certiorari.

A newspaper challenged the finding that Minnesota's imposition of a use tax on ink and paper used in publications was not a violation of the guarantees of freedom of the press and equal protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.


  • The Court found that Minnesota had created a special tax that applied only to certain publications protected by the First Amendment. 
  • Although the state argued that the tax on paper and ink was part of the general scheme of taxation, the Court found that the use tax provision was facially discriminatory. 
  • Minnesota's treatment of publications differed from that of other enterprises, and Minnesota offered no adequate justification for the special treatment of newspapers. 
  • The court held that Minnesota's ink and paper tax violated the First Amendment, not only because it singled out the press, but also because it targeted a small group of newspapers.

The decision upholding the constitutionality of the Minnesota use tax imposed on newspapers was reversed.

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