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Document Type

Case Note

Abstract

Every year the abundance of marine life attracts nonresident commercial fishermen to the icy waters off the coast of Alaska. The State of Alaska charges these nonresident commercial fishermen three times as much as resident commercial fishermen for fishing licenses and limited entry permits. In Carlson v. State, a class representing all nonresident commercial fishermen challenged the constitutionality of these fee differentials. Specifically, the class alleged the violation of rights afforded by the Commerce Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the United States Constitution. A majority of the Supreme Court of Alaska held that the case did not implicate the Commerce Clause. The court did, however, entertain the class's challenge under the Privileges and Immuni- ties Clause. The court endorsed a formula that given more finalized budgetary figures would test the constitutionality of Alaska's nonresident commercial fishery fee differentials under the Privileges and Immunities Clause. The court remanded the case to the superior court to ascertain those figures and to apply the formula. This Note analyzes the treatment of nonresident commercial fishery fee differentials under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Part II traces the development of case law in this field. Part III assesses the Supreme Court of Alaska's adoption and endorsement of a mathematical formula to determine the constitutionality of Alaska's nonresident commercial fishery fee differentials. Part IV considers whether this formula could be a model against which the constitutionality of other nonresident commercial fishery fee differentials could be judged. This Note concludes that a system of taxation unique to Alaska will likely confine the application of the formula to that state.

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