For 20 years, the City of Juneau has collected passenger fees from cruise lines that enter its port. These fees are assessed based on the number of passengers that arrive on each cruise vessel, and amount to $8.00 per passenger. On December 6, 2018, in Cruise Lines International Association Alaska v. The City and Borough of Juneau , the U.S. District Court of Alaska held that Juneau’s use of the passenger fees violates the U.S. Constitution’s Tonnage Clause. Rather than appeal the decision, the City of Juneau subsequently settled the litigation with the cruise lines. This Note will examine Juneau’s passenger fees in light of the Tonnage Clause. It will argue that because Juneau and the State of Alaska depend on these fees and other tourism revenue, Alaska policymakers should lobby Congress to use its Tonnage Clause authorizing powers to grant Alaska port cities the authority to charge set passenger fees to visiting cruise lines. Part One will analyze the Court’s historical understanding of the Tonnage Clause. Part Two will examine the litigation, the court’s decision in Cruise Lines International, and the recent settlement between the City and the cruise lines. Part Three will consider how this case may disrupt Alaska’s tourism industry and economy and will focus on other Alaska laws that may be invalidated on the basis of this decision. Part Four will propose a model law for passage by Congress, to help Alaska work around the holding in Cruise Lines International.
Protecting Passenger Fees: Reawakening Congress’s Tonnage Clause Authorization Powers,
36 Alaska Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/alr/vol36/iss1/5