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Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) released the following statement after President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court:

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “Judge Kavanaugh is an excellent choice for the United States Supreme Court. Throughout his impressive career, he has consistently demonstrated his commitment to upholding the Constitution as our Founders intended. I have full confidence that, when confirmed by the Senate, Judge Kavanaugh will continue to serve our nation honorably.”

By: Meg Jones of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin's governor, congressional delegation and U.S. Senate candidates reacted Monday night to President Donald Trump's decision to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy with Brett Kavanaugh.

Here's what they said in statements or on social media.

Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement: "Brett Kavanaugh is an excellent nominee to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. I believe he fits the criteria I look for in judicial candidates which is: a man or woman of integrity, a person who has a solid understanding of the law, and a person who understands that the role of the judiciary is to uphold the Constitution regardless of one’s personal or political beliefs."

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.): “People need an independent justice who will not overturn the law of the land on women’s health, health care for people with pre-existing conditions, and the constitutional rights and freedoms of all Americans. The stakes are very high for the American people and these are the things that I will be looking for as I review the nomination.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.): “A Supreme Court justice ought to be a judge, not a super legislator – applying the Constitution as written, not altering it to reach a result. President Trump nominated a person who fit that description in Justice Neil Gorsuch last year, and to my understanding Judge Brett Kavanaugh fits it as well. I look forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh and the Senate moving expeditiously through the confirmation process.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville): "Judge Kavanaugh will bring extensive experience to the Supreme Court; his long career exemplifies public service and, in particular, dedication to religious liberty. He has shown that constitutional principles are the ultimate guide for his opinions. I look forward to Judge Kavanaugh's swift confirmation in the Senate. This is an excellent choice."

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls): “Judge Kavanaugh is an excellent choice for the United States Supreme Court. Throughout his impressive career, he has consistently demonstrated his commitment to upholding the Constitution as our Founders intended. I have full confidence that, when confirmed by the Senate, Judge Kavanaugh will continue to serve our nation honorably.”

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee): "Unsurprised @realDonaldTrump picks radical inexperienced SCOTUS nominee that believes Trump’s above the law. Kavanaugh should not be confirmed under any circumstances."

Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau): "@POTUS is right: 'the rule of law is a cornerstone of our freedom.' He first found a Supreme Court Justice in Neil who believes just that, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh shows thus far that he holds that same sacred view. I urge @SenRonJohnson, @senatorbaldwin, and the rest of the Senate to support his nomination so that we can ensure that the Constitution remains the foundation of truth for the Supreme Court."

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay): “Judge Kavanaugh is an outstanding pick for the United States Supreme Court. He is a highly respected jurist who holds the right judicial philosophy of stating what the law is, and not what he thinks it should be. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to set aside partisan politics and get to work confirming Judge Kavanaugh to our nation’s highest court.” 

Leah Vukmir, who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Tammy Baldwin in the November election, tweeted: "I've said it before: The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, and @POTUS's #SCOTUSPick, Judge Brett Kavanaugh has the track record to become a strong constitutionalist justice." 

Kevin Nicholson, a Republican who is also running for U.S. Senate, tweeted: "Liberal obstructionists like Tammy Baldwin will try to stop the confirmation of @realDonaldTrump's #SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh. One of many reasons Wisconsin needs to #SendInTheMarine. We need an even stronger majority in the Senate."

Washington, D.C.Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) was named by Speaker Paul Ryan to serve as an outside conferee to negotiate compromises between the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019. As a conferee, Congressman Sensenbrenner will represent the House Judiciary Committee in negotiations where the two chambers will reconcile differences between the two versions of the legislation.

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “We must ensure the brave men and women in our military have adequate funding to accomplish their missions as safely and efficiently as possible. I’m honored to be chosen to serve on this conference committee, and I look forward to producing legislation that meets the needs of our military and spends the taxpayer dollars wisely.”

Procedural Background:

Often, when the House and Senate pass similar versions of significant legislation, such as the National Defense Authorization Act, the two chambers will convene a conference committee where representatives from each chamber will negotiate a single bill. After the conference committee produces a final bill, known as a “conference report,” both chambers will consider that legislation. Should both chambers both pass the conference report, it will head to the President’s desk. 

By: Dr. Tim Westlake, Opinion Contributor to The Hill

As Congress moves swiftly to address the opioid epidemic, it is vitally important the most meaningful and impactful solutions are enacted, including the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues Act, or SOFA. In testimony last month before the House Judiciary Committee, I urged Congress to consider this critical piece of legislation to halt the spread of fentanyl-related substances. Let me explain.

In my role on the Wisconsin Medical Examining and Controlled Substance Boards, and as an emergency room physician on the front lines of the opioid battlefield for the past two decades, I have witnessed more tragedy than I care to recall. Countless hours have been spent working to identify and implement best practices. One strategy, for physicians to prescribe more judiciously, is already happening in the Badger State -- not with top down mandates, but through education and partnerships with the medical community. The goal is to stem not only the supply of legal, but also illicit, opioids. By far, the deadliest threat in the opioid war is posed by fentanyl-related substances. In fact, deaths from fentanyl-related substances now surpass heroin deaths.

Because so little can kill so many -- a lethal dose of fentanyl is 2mg and one teaspoon is enough to kill 2,000 people -- fentanyl variants are classifiable as weapons of mass destruction. The “bad guys” use loopholes in the existing scheduling laws to create new legal fentanyl variants. These untested chemicals are then produced abroad, mostly in China, and trafficked legally into the U.S. to enter the opioid supply.

As prescription opioid reforms take hold and the medical community returns to more judicious prescribing practices, the market for counterfeit pills will continue to explode. Most illicit opioid users have no idea what they are consuming. With the advent of counterfeit pill production, they believe they’re ingesting a “safe” trade-name manufactured pill, when actually it is a fentanyl-related counterfeit substance. These can be transported legally into the U.S. and even bought online and delivered in the mail. These pills can be alarmingly stronger than what they are purported to be -- up to hundreds of times stronger. The singer Prince died from counterfeit Vicodin pills that were actually fentanyl.

In Wisconsin, we saw this coming and worked closely with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to get in front of it. We created and enacted scheduling statutes now being modeled nationally. The SOFA Act controls, by structure, all likely bioactive chemical modifications of the fentanyl molecule. This novel, catch-all legislative language allows us to schedule proactively and not wait for loved ones to die before we can schedule each newly modified fentanyl variant. Essentially, it unplugs the entire fentanyl machine.

The legislation is specific by design: it targets only the likely bioactive modifications of the fentanyl molecule itself; no other opioids or drugs are included. As well, research would not be impeded. The current research approval process would not change and the DEA has streamlined the registration process.

The week after Wisconsin enacted SOFA, the DEA published identical language in the Federal Register as the method of federal temporary scheduling. Chemists around the world must be paying attention. Since the announcement of the intent to schedule using SOFA seven months ago, no new fentanyl-related substances have been found by the DEA. In contrast, during the prior two years, DEA uncovered 17 new fentanyls, representing hundreds of deaths. SOFA is already saving lives, but the language needs to be written into federal law to achieve the best permanent scheduling solution. Thanks to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Wisconsin’s solution is now under consideration as model legislation for the nation.

With the many well-intentioned opioid bills being considered in Washington, it would be a tragedy to leave the fentanyl-related substances loophole open. It’s why I am writing today. I urge Congress to include SOFA in the solutions it enacts in the coming weeks to minimize the scourge of opioids and stop the spread of what are really chemical weapons.

Dr. Tim Westlake is a full-time Emergency Physician; Medical Director of the Oconomowoc Memorial Emergency Department; Vice Chairman of the Wisconsin State Medical Examining Board, where he serves as Chairman of the Licensing and Controlled Substance Committees; member of the Wisconsin State Controlled Substances Board and of the Governor’s Taskforce on Opioid Abuse. 

By: Marco Green of Lancashire Independent News

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson Inc with higher taxes and said their business would suffer in a public backlash over its decision to move production for European customers overseas.

The US President launched a Twitter tirade against Harley-Davidson in which he also suggested that tariffs on the EU's vehicle exports are imminent, raising fears of a further tariff escalation.

Trump warned the iconic American brand that any shift in production "will be the beginning of the end". "The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!"

Harley-Davidson said that shifting targeted production from the U.S.to global facilities could take at least nine to 18 months to be completed.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Trump administration plans to impose curbs on Chinese investment in American technology companies and high-tech exports to China.

Trump offered no clarity later in the day when he was asked about tariffs during a White House photo-op with Congress members.

"Harley-Davidson is using that as an excuse and I don't like that because I've been very good to Harley-Davidson and they used it as an excuse", he said in response. "And I think the people who ride Harleys aren't happy with Harley-Davidson and I wouldn't be either".

"To address the substantial cost of this tariff burden long-term, Harley-Davidson will be implementing a plan to shift production of motorcycles for European Union destinations from the USA to its worldwide facilities to avoid the tariff burden", the company said in an official filing to the United States market regulator.

Trump first responded angrily to the Harley announcement on Monday, saying he has fought hard for the 115-year-old company and was surprised by its plans, which he described as waving the "White Flag". The EU's trade chief said last week that it was "left with no other choice" after Mr. Trump imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum from the EU on June 1.

The Milwaukee-based company made a decision to build the Thailand plant past year after Trump pulled out from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have lowered import tariffs on its bikes in some of the fastest-growing motorcycle markets in Asia.

"Harley must know that they won't be able to sell back into US without paying a big tax!" In January, it said it would consolidate its Kansas City, Missouri, plant into its York, Pennsylvania, facility. "Taxes just a Harley excuse - be patient!" "Shows how unbalanced & unfair trade is, but we will fix it...."

He said: "We are finishing our study of Tariffs on cars from the European Union in that they have long taken advantage of the USA in the form of Trade Barriers and Tariffs". "Companies are now coming back to America".

More potential pitfalls for Harley-Davidson and other US manufacturers could be on the way. "Europe is a critical market for Harley-Davidson".

"It's unfortunate that such a strong Wisconsin company like Harley-Davidson has to bear the brunt of this trade dispute", Sensenbrenner said.

By: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner

June 26, 2018

Last Thursday, the United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling in the closely-watched case South Dakota v. Wayfair. While the facts of the case narrowly focus on whether South Dakota can force businesses without a “physical presence” within its borders to remit state taxes during online sales, the far-reaching implications cut to the heart of one of our nation’s most foundational principles and the primary catalyst for the Revolutionary War: taxation (and regulation) without representation.

In light of Wayfair, Congress must now take action to preserve the rights of each state and protect the economic interests of consumers and small businesses.

By overturning decades of precedent established in National Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Department of Revenue of Ill. and Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the high court opened the door to something feared by consumers and businesses alike: internet sales tax. Small businesses and entrepreneurs will now be forced to navigate the maze of more than 10,000 different tax jurisdictions. Large chain stores, like Walmart and Target, will survive the additional regulatory burden. However, the thousands of independent online entrepreneurs that use platforms such as eBay and Etsy to do business will experience the most harm.

Moreover, the increased cost of compliance for small businesses will likely result in higher prices and fewer options for consumers.

In his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts rightly concluded, “’The Constitution gives Congress the power ‘[t]o regulate Commerce… among the several States.’ Art. I, §8. I would let Congress decide whether to depart from the physical-presence rule that has governed this area for half a century.”

Fortunately, the majority deliberately noted in their opinion: “[…] when Congress exercises its power to regulate commerce by enacting legislation, the legislation controls.”

Now more than ever, Congress must exercise its plenary power by passing my No Regulation Without Representation (NRWR) Act. This bipartisan legislation defends the principles of federalism and reasserts Congress’s authority over interstate commerce by clearly defining when a state can tax and regulate a business. Specifically, it bars states from levying taxes or imposing regulations on businesses that are not physically present in that state, and, therefore, do not have a voice in the creation of those tax laws and regulations.

The NRWR Act prevents states from bullying out-of-state businesses by attempting to set de-facto national policies.

For example, in 2008, California voters passed a proposition that requires egg producers to use cages twice the size of a typical cage. Initially, the regulation only applied to in-state producers. However, when California egg producers complained they were at a competitive disadvantage, state legislators extended the regulation to producers from other states as well.

California’s regulatory overreach is not unique. In 2016, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative to ban certain types of housing for pigs, chickens, and cows. The rule would ban the sale of out-of-state meat and eggs that do not meet the state’s animal housing standards.

California and Massachusetts are well within their rights to regulate their citizens, however, any regulations that extend beyond their borders must come, as the Chief Justice reminds us, from Congress.

While I don’t expect to see residents of Connecticut and Rhode Island storming ships in Boston Harbor to throw bacon, eggs, and veal overboard, we still must restore the principles of federalism and representative government.

Ultimately, the NRWR Act provides a common-sense solution to restore fairness and order to the regulatory free-for-all created by Wayfair. In a time of hyper-partisan disagreements and widespread concern with government overreach, the NRWR Act can bridge the partisan divide and preserve the will of the Constitution.

You can read this piece online here.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) offered the following statement after voting for H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act:

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “This comprehensive legislation advances our bipartisan effort to end the opioid epidemic and restore hope to families and communities suffering from this public health crisis. I’m proud of our work and urge my colleagues to take the next step and pass my Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act to specifically target the proliferation of fentanyl analogues, which, along with other synthetic opioids, have become the most common cause of overdose-related death.”

More than 150 patient advocacy groups support H.R. 6. You can view the full list here.

H.R. 6 contains the following bills:

Sec 101. – H.R. 1925, the At-Risk Youth Medicaid Protection Act

Sec 102. – H.R. 4998, the Health Insurance for Former Foster Youth Act

Sec 103. – H.R. 5477, the Rural DOCS Act

Sec 104. – H.R. 5808, the Medicaid Pharmaceutical Home Act of 2018

Sec 105. – H.R. 5799, the Medicaid DRUG Improvement Act

Sec 106. – H.R. 5789, To amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to provide for Medicaid coverage protections for pregnant and post-partum women while receiving inpatient treatment for a substance use disorder, and for other purposes

Sec 107. – H.R. 5810, the Medicaid Health HOME Act

Sec 201. – H.R. 5603, the Access to Telehealth Services for Opioid Use Disorders Act

Sec 202. – H.R. 5809, the Postoperative Opioid Prevention Act of 2018

Sec 203. – H.R. 5798, the Opioid Screening and Chronic Pain Management Alternatives for Seniors Act

Sec 204. – H.R. 5804, the Post-Surgical Injections as an Opioid Alternative Act

Sec 205. – H.R. 3528, the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act Act

Sec 206. – H.R. 5675, To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to require prescription drug plan sponsors under the Medicare program to establish drug management programs for at-risk beneficiaries

Sec 207. – H.R. 5776, the MOST Act

Sec 301. – H.R. 5806, the 21st Century Tools for Pain and Addiction Treatment Act

Sec 302. – H.R. 5580, the STOP Fentanyl Deaths Act

Sec 303. – H.R. 3692, the Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act of 2017

Sec. 5001 – H.R. 5583, to amend title XI of the Social Security Act to require states to annually report on certain adult health quality measures, and for other purposes

Sec. 5011, 5012 – H.R. 5800, the Medicaid IMD ADDITIONAL INFO Act

Sec. 5021, 5022 – H.R. 3192, the CHIP Mental Health Parity Act

Sec. 5031, 5032 – H.R. 4005, the Medicaid Reentry Act

Sec. 5041, 5042 – H.R. 5801, the Medicaid PARTNERSHIP Act

Sec. 6001 – H.R. 3331, To amend title XI of the Social Security Act to promote testing of incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adoption and use of certified electronic health record technology

Sec. 6011, 6012 – H.R. 5582, the Abuse Deterrent Access Act of 2018

Sec. 6021, 6022 – H.R. 5685, the Medicare Opioid Safety Education Act

Sec. 6031, 6032 – H.R. 5590, the Opioid Addiction Action Plan Act

Sec. 6041, 6042 – H.R. 5605, the Advancing High Quality Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders in Medicare Act

Sec. 6051, 6052 –  H.R. 5796, the REACH OUT Act of 2018

Sec. 6061, 6062, 6063, 6065, 6064 – H.R. 5773, the PASS Act of 2018

Sec. 6071, 6072 – H.R. 5723, the Expanding Oversight of Opioid Prescribing and Payment Act of 2018

Sec. 6081, 6082, 6083, 6084, 6085, 6086 – H.R. 6110, the Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management, Treatment, and Recovery Act of 2018

Sec. 6091, 6092, 6093, 6094, 6095 – H.R. 5774, the COACH Act of 2018

Sec. 6101, 6102 – H.R. 5676, the SENIOR Communities Protection Act of 2018

Sec. 6111, 6112, 6113, 6114 – H.R. 5775, the Providing Reliable Options for Patients and Educational Resources (PROPER) Act

Sec. 7001, 7002 – H.R. 449, Synthetic Drug Awareness Act of 2017

Sec. 7011, 7012 – H.R. 4275, Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act

Sec. 7021, 7022, 7023 – H.R. 4284, Indexing Narcotics, Fentanyl, and Opioids (INFO) Act of 2017

Sec. 7031, 7032 – H.R. 4684, the Ensuring Access to Quality Sober Living Act of 2017

Sec. 7041, 7042 – H.R. 5002, ACE Research Act

Sec. 7051, 7052 – H.R. 5009, Jessie’s Law

Sec. 7061, 7062 – H.R. 5041, Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act

Sec. 7071 – H.R. 5102, Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2018

Sec. 7081, 7082 – H.R. 5176, Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms (POWER) Act of 2018

Sec. 7091, 7092 – H.R. 5197, Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act

Sec. 7101, 7102, 7103, 7104, 7105, 7106 – H.R. 5228, the Stop Counterfeit Drugs by Regulating and Enhancing Enforcement Now (SCREEN) Act

Sec. 7111, 7112 – H.R. 5261, TEACH to Combat Addiction Act of 2018

Sec. 7121 – H.R. 5272, a bill to ensure that programs and activities that are funded by a grant, cooperative agreement, loan, or loan guarantee from the Department of Health and Human Services, and whose purpose is to prevent or treat a mental health or substance use disorder, are evidence-based

Sec. 7131, 7132 – H.R. 5327, Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act 2018

Sec. 7141, 7142, 7143, 7144 – H.R. 5329, the Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2018

Sec. 7151, 7152 – H.R. 5353, Eliminating Opioid-Related Infectious Diseases Act of 2018

Sec. 7161, 7162 – H.R. 5473, the Better Pain Management Through Better Data Act of 2018

Sec. 7171, 7172 – H.R. 5483, Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act of 2018

Sec. 7181, 7182 – H.R. 5587, the Peer Support Communities of Recovery Act

Sec. 7191, 7192, 7193, 7194 – H.R. 5752, the Stop Illicit Drug Importation Act of 2018

Sec. 7201, 7202, 7203 – H.R. 5812, the Creating Opportunities that Necessitate New and Enhanced Connections That Improve Opioid Navigation Strategies (CONNECTIONS) Act

Sec. 7211, 7212 – H.R. 5687, the SOUND Disposal and Packaging Act

Sec. 7221 – H.R. 5811, to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to post approval study requirements for certain controlled substances, and for other purposes

Sec. 8001, 8002, 8003, 8004, 8005, 8006, 8007, 8008, 8009 – H.R. 5788, the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act of 2018

Sec. 8011, 8012 - H.R. 5889, the Recognizing Early Childhood Trauma Related to Substance Abuse Act of 2018

Sec. 8021, 8022 –  H.R. 5890, the Assisting States’ Implementation of Plans of Safe Care Act

Sec. 8031, 8032 – H.R. 5891, the Improving the Federal Response to Families Impacted by Substance Use Disorder Act

Sec. 8041 – H.R. 5892, to establish an Advisory Committee on Opioids and the Workplace to advise the Secretary of Labor on actions the Department of Labor can take to address the impact of opioid abuse on the workplace

Sec. 8051, 8052 – H.R. 2147, the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018

Sec. 8061 – H.R. 4635, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the number of peer-to-peer counselors providing counseling for women veterans, and for other purposes

Sec. 8071, 8072 – H.R. 5294, the Treating Barriers to Prosperity Act of 2018

Sec. 8081, 8082, 8083, 8084 – House Amendment to S. 1091, the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Sec. 8091, 8092 – H.R. 6029, the REGROUP Act of 2018

You can read more information about the SOFA Act here and review the bill text here.

By: Jess Bravin, Brent Kendall, and Laura Stevens of the Wall Street Journal

States have the authority to make online retailers collect sales taxes, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, a milestone marking e-commerce’s treatment as a mature player in a marketplace no longer defined by trips to the corner store or the shopping mall.

By a 5-to-4 vote, the court closed a loophole that helped fuel the early growth of internet sales, overruling a half-century of its own precedents that forbid states from requiring merchants to collect sales tax unless those sellers maintain a “physical presence” within the state’s borders.

The ruling likely will spell the end of an era in which consumers could avoid taxes by purchasing goods online instead of from local merchants.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who suggested years ago that the pre-Amazon.com precedent should be updated for the digital age, wrote for a majority that defied conventional ideological lines. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined his opinion, along with conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

Justice Kennedy said the “physical presence” rule, always doubtful, had become untenable. He cited studies suggesting that the court’s own “artificial, anachronistic rule” now costs states up to $33.9 billion annually in uncollected sales taxes, sapping resources for essential public services while distorting the marketplace by advantaging remote sellers over those anchored in the community.

Because the court’s rulings freed out-of-state sellers from collecting sales taxes, the duty to pay them has fallen on consumers themselves. Few people have known of that obligation, and fewer still have complied: 96% of such taxes go uncollected, according to a California tax board estimate cited by the court.

More than 40 states, territories and the District of Columbia that rely on sales taxes had urged overruling the 1967 case that established the physical presence rule and a 1992 decision that affirmed it.

Groups representing conventional store retailers including Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. backed them. South Dakota brought the suit, seeking to require out-of-state companiesWayfair Inc., Overstock.com Inc. and Newegg Inc. to collect sales tax on transactions with the state’s residents. Antitax groups and retail platforms including eBay Inc. and Etsy Inc. supported the defendants.

While the justices rarely disturb their own precedents, the court no longer could stand behind an erroneous decision that “limited states’ ability to seek long-term prosperity and has prevented market participants from competing on an even playing field,” Justice Kennedy wrote.

Even the four dissenters, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, agreed that the “physical presence” rule was wrong. But with so much of the economy having grown under its influence, they said the court should leave well enough alone.

Congress, under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce, could at any time have altered the court’s rules, which effectively serve as a default in the face of legislative inaction. Torn between opposing commercial interests and fearful of the blame for effectively increasing costs for consumers, Congress hasn’t found the will—or consensus—to do so.

Some online retailers, such as Amazon.com Inc.,already collect state sales tax on products they sell directly. Others don’t—and, to Justice Kennedy’s chagrin, brag about it.

Wayfair’s advertising not only presents “an image of beautiful, peaceful homes,” but “also says that ‘one of the best things about buying through Wayfair is that we do not have to charge sales tax,’ ” Justice Kennedy wrote, calling the pitch, which since has disappeared from the Boston-based retailer’s website, “a subtle offer to assist in tax evasion.”

Nevertheless, the decision suggested states may face some limits on their collection powers. Justice Kennedy favorably noted provisions of the South Dakota law exempting small retailers and forgoing any effort to collect taxes retroactively on prior sales. The state imposes collection duties only on remote sellers that do more than $100,000 in business or at least 200 transactions a year within South Dakota.

“Many states will pick up on those details and incorporate them into their own regulatory regimes,” said Eric Citron, an attorney who represented South Dakota. He said he expected nearly every state with a sales tax to move legislation or regulations to enforce collections. “Complete compliance will become the norm within the next year or two,” he said.

Amazon originally set up its business model to avoid state sales taxes, limiting its physical presence to a handful of warehouses. But it changed strategy to build more warehouses closer to consumers as it has relied more on its Prime two-day shipping offer—and started charging sales tax on items it sells directly.

Amazon hasn’t collected the taxes for most independent merchants who sell on its platform. About $200 billion in sales originated with independent merchants selling on Amazon world-wide last year, according to Factset analyst estimates, compared with about $116 billion in direct sales by Amazon. The company declined to comment on the ruling.

Amazon has drawn sharp criticism from President Donald Trump, and the Justice Department had backed the states’ argument.

On Thursday, the president exulted. “About time! Big victory for fairness and for our country,” he said in a tweet. The Wall Street Journal reported in April that TrumpStore.com failed to collect taxes for more than 40 states, including New York, where the flagship store is in Trump Tower.

Online merchants’ stocks moved lower after the decision was released before recovering slightly. Amazon initially was down about 1% and Wayfair nearly 7%, before both recovered to close about flat. Etsy’s stock closed down 1.38% and eBay was down more than 3%.

Wayfair said it collects sales tax on some 80% of its U.S. orders and didn’t expect the decision to have “any noticeable impact on our business.”

“While we believe the court was not the ideal venue for creating this level playing field, we expect that today’s decision will bring clarity and certainty to this issue,” the company said.

Small online businesses have been using Amazon, eBay and Etsy to build their sales for years and have argued for a blanket legislative solution to prevent the high cost and burden of complying with different rules in each state.

“Now is the time for Congress to provide clear tax rules with a strong small business exemption,” an eBay spokeswoman said.

Before the court’s ruling, eBay Chief Executive Devin Wenig warned in an interview with The Wall Street Journal of an “extremely chaotic” environment if the Supreme Court handed states more authority to force companies to collect such taxes.

“Every state loves this tax because you get to tax people who can’t vote for you,” Mr. Wenig said. “You get to tax businesses that aren’t in your jurisdiction, so this is the favorite tax of every state legislature.”

Shares of retail landlords rose on the ruling. Perhaps the biggest boost came to a newly public company called Avalara Inc. that makes a type of tax-compliance software many smaller merchants may now need. Its shares finished up more than 14%.

Thursday’s opinion is likely to spur a new push for a federal law to limit states’ ability to require tax collection by small businesses and to restrain cross-border audits. This time, however, it will be internet retailers and catalog businesses seeking guardrails on state action, and they’ll have the burden of mustering majorities in Congress.

Lawmakers, however, appeared just as divided on the issue Thursday as they did before the ruling, making near-term legislative action a challenge. Like at the Supreme Court, the congressional split is not entirely ideological.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.), Richard Durbin (D., Ill) and Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), for example, praised the ruling as “good news” for Main Street businesses, while Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.), Jim Sensenbrenner (R., Wis.) and Anna Eshoo (D., Calif.) said the decision was a “nightmare” that would “stifle online commerce, close businesses, and ultimately harm consumers.”

“We are now really comfortable with Congress continuing its path of not acting on this issue,” said Max Behlke, director of budget and tax policy for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Steve Delbianco, president of NetChoice, an e-commerce trade group, said Congress should act immediately to create rules for states and retailers.

“A brick-and-mortar business won’t have to comply with the differing rules of over 12,000 tax jurisdictions, or integrate costly and complex tax software into its operations,” Mr. Delbianco said in a statement. “But small web businesses will.”

Justice Kennedy saw it differently. “There is nothing unfair about requiring companies that avail themselves of the states’ benefits to bear an equal share of the burden of tax collection,” he wrote.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) voted for H.R. 4760, the Securing America’s Future Act. Congressman Sensenbrenner, an original cosponsor of H.R. 4760, offered the following statement after the legislation failed in the House:

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “Today, the House missed a golden opportunity to pass H.R. 4760, which included much-needed reforms like the mandatory use of E-Verify, end of chain migration, and increased border security. Our efforts would have also addressed the issue of family separations and provided a fix for DACA recipients — without granting amnesty. I’m disappointed by today’s results but remain committed to securing our porous borders and fixing our broken immigration system.” 

You can read the full text of the Securing America’s Future Act here.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) offered the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair:

Rep. Sensenbrenner“Today’s Supreme Court decision only highlights the urgency for Congress to take action to clarify these matters of interstate commerce. Failure to do so leaves American entrepreneurs and small businesses subject to taxation and regulation without representation. Congress should immediately pass my No Regulation Without Representation Act, which restores fairness and order to our nation’s e-commerce system.”

You can read the Court’s decision here.