In 1992, in Quill Corp. v. South Dakota, 504 U.S. 298, the Supreme Court ruled that a catalog retailer needs a physical presence in a state to require it to collect sales taxes. With the explosion of online sales, movement has been afoot to revisit this ruling. When the all-important Oz of the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy, said in 2015 the time has come, see Direct Mktg. Ass’n v. Brohl, 135 S.Ct. 1124 (concurring), the die was cast. The States got their act together, hired Tom Goldstein, a whoop-de-doo Supreme Court practitioner, marshalled a vast array of amici, and the Supreme Court has now heard their call, granting certiorari in December in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. Who’s on the other side, representing the retailers? Brann & Isaacson, of Lewiston, Maine.
This means another visit to the Big Show for B&I, who was there before – in Brohl. There, representing retailers again, they won 9-0 on a jurisdictional issue. But as noted above, that’s the decision where Justice Kennedy said it’s time to overturn Quill. So B&I will now get a chance to try to convince him to change his mind. Good luck with that.
Here’s Scotusblog’s summary of the Brohl oral argument (Argument analysis: Justices look for a third way in Colorado’s tax injunction dispute with online retailers) and of the subsequent decision (Opinion analysis: Online retailers win big in use-tax dispute – for now).
How does a small firm in Lewiston get to represent such big players and go to the Supreme Court? They developed their retail catalogue expertise as counsel for a little company in Maine you might have heard of – L.L. Bean.