The Cullen Law Firm PLLC Files Petition with the Supreme Court to Review Excessive Tolls Issues on the Pennsylvania Turnpike

News, The Cullen Law Firm, PLLC

The Cullen Law Firm PLLC has filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that dismissed a challenge to the tolls imposed by the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Petitioners the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the National Motorists Association (NMA) and several of their individual members challenge the constitutionality of what they allege are excessive and burdensome tolls.

According to the Petition, annual toll collections in recent years have amounted to between 250 and 300 percent of the actual cost of operating and maintaining the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Petitioners claim that excessive tolls constitute an undue burden on interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and a violation of drivers’ constitutional right to travel.

The Petition asks the Supreme Court to address two issues of importance. First, did Congress authorize states to impose excessive tolls, in amounts that would otherwise violate the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, when it enacted a statute that addresses how tolls must be spent, but was silent as to the amount of tolls that may be collected? The Third Circuit found that a statute, Title 49 U.S. Code Section 129, passed in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act gave states broad authority to set toll amounts without limit.  The various federal courts of appeals are divided as to whether Congressional intent to authorize exceptions to the Commerce Clause may be implied from legislative silence.

The Third Circuit also held that individuals must allege that they were actually deterred from traveling because of the excessive tolls in order to allege a violation of their constitutional right to travel. The federal courts of appeals are also split on this important issue according to the Petition and OOIDA and NMA are asking the Supreme Court to accept the case and resolve these issues.

This Petition for Certiorari is posted here.  For more information, please contact Paul D. Cullen, Sr. at The Cullen Law Firm PLLC at 202-944-8600.

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