US: Supreme Court to consider wine sales battle
The US Supreme Court has said it will consider recent Circuit US Court of Appeals cases which challenged New York's and Michigan's bans on interstate, direct-to-consumer wine shipments.
The highest court in the US could end the battle between winemakers and drinks distributors over the legality of interstate sales.
The dispute revolves around two apparently conflicting elements of the US constitution.
A "commerce clause" gives the federal government the authority to regulate commerce across state lines, and prohibits states from erecting barriers to interstate trade. But the 21st Amendment to the constitution, which repealed Prohibition in 1933, gave states authority over the regulation of alcohol.
It is expected that arguments for the case will be held in December.
"We welcome the opportunity to challenge laws whose sole purpose is economic protectionism," said Judge Kenneth W. Starr, counsel to the Coalition for Free Trade, a non-profit organization seeking judicial relief from laws prohibiting direct-to-consumer shipments of wine. "Where we have active opposition to positive rulings and favorable legislation that seek to assist family-owned wineries, we also have a terrific chance to modernize archaic laws. This can only benefit businesses, families and consumers," he added.
However, president and CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, Juanita D. Duggan, said: "We are very pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether a state may ban the unregulated, unaccountable and anonymous sales and distribution of alcohol.
"We believe the Supreme Court will use this opportunity to let states know that they have the right to protect their communities, safeguard their children and track sales and distribution of alcohol within their borders.
"In recent years, the influential, billion-dollar wine industry has been waging an aggressive campaign to deregulate alcohol sales. That's because many within the wine industry place soaring profits ahead of sound public policy, with no concern for kids, communities or common sense.
"We agree with the vast majority of states that deregulating alcohol is a bad idea. We look forward to a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that once and for all resolves this issue and reaffirms a state's right under the Constitution and federal law to protect its citizens against alcohol anarchy."
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