Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hughes v. Oklahoma case brief

Hughes v. Oklahoma case brief summary
441 U.S. 322 (1979)

Defendant appealed from a decision by which the Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma affirmed his conviction for exporting minnows from the state, a violation of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Code, Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 29, § 4-115(B) (Supp. 1978). Defendant, a Texas minnow dealer, claimed that § 411-115(B) violated the Commerce Clause.

Defendant purchased a large quantity of minnows from a minnow dealer that was licensed in Oklahoma. Because defendant purchased the minnows to export them from Oklahoma to Texas for sale, he was charged with violating § 411-115(B). Defendant was convicted in the trial court and a fine was imposed for the violation. The court of criminal appeals affirmed defendant's conviction, rejecting his claim that § 411-115(B) violated the Commerce Clause, U.S. Constitutional art. I, § 8, because it discriminated against interstate commerce.

On further review, the Court reversed defendant's conviction, finding that Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 29, § 411-115(B) (Supp. 1978) was repugnant to the Commerce Clause. The court reasoned that § 411-115(B) was discriminatory on its face because it placed no limits on the numbers or disposition of minnows within the state but forbade their export for sale outside the state. In rejecting the fiction of state ownership of wildlife, the Court specifically overruled Greer v. U.S., 161 U.S. 519 (1896).


The Court reversed defendant's conviction for exporting minnows from the State of Oklahoma for sale in Texas.

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