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Inc. v. Stake Reeves

Cementing Commerce Between South Dakota And Wyoming, States As Participators: "good Sense And Sound Law"


Reeves, Inc., a Wyoming concrete distributor


Stake, et al., members of the South Dakota Cement Commission

Petitioner's Claim

That South Dakota's refusal to sell cement to an out-of-state buyer, due to a "cement shortage" which compelled it to prefer purchasers from within the state, constituted "hoarding" and was a preferential system forbidden by the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

William J. Janklow

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Dennis M. Kirven

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun (writing for the Court), Warren E. Burger, Thurgood Marshall, William H. Rehnquist, Potter Stewart

Justices Dissenting

William J. Brennan, Jr., Lewis F. Powell, Jr., John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

19 June 1980


In a ruling that relied heavily on the Court's earlier decision in Hughes v. Alexandria Scrap Corporation (1976), the Court held that South Dakota was acting as a "participant," rather than as a "regulator," in the interstate market. Hence, its withdrawal of its product for sale to out-of-state purchasers did not constitute a violation of the Commerce Clause.


Reeves, Inc. v. Stake developed the "participant-regulator" distinction which first appeared in Hughes v. Alexandria Scrap Corporation four years earlier. It helped solidify the understanding that a state, when it operated as a "participant" in interstate commerce, could undertake actions that, were it operating as a "regulator," would constitute protectionist practices forbidden under the Commerce Clause.


Reeves solidified the "participant-regulator" distinction first established in Alexandria Scrap. Three years later, with White v. Massachusetts Council of Construction Employers, Inc. (1983), the Court reinforced its holding in the two earlier cases by upholding a mayor's executive order that set aside a fixed number of jobs on city projects for local residents.

Related Cases

  • Hughes v. Alexandria Scrap Corporation, 426 U.S. 794 (1976).
  • National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U.S. 833 (1976).
  • White v. Massachusetts Council of Construction Employers, 460 U.S. 204 (1983).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980