Author Topic: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?  (Read 1152 times)

Offline paul

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US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« on: December 17, 2010, 10:39:40 PM »
Does anyone know if the Brewer's Association is taking a position on this?

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-white-online-wine-20101217,0,7042280.story

Seems like it could open up distribution for craft brewers and make it easier to get out-of-state beers for craft beer drinkers.


Offline tschmidlin

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2010, 10:51:53 PM »
Quote
No other industry faces such discrimination. Wine consumers deserve a free market in wine, one in which any adult can purchase wine from wherever he or she wants.
Typical wine snobbery.  No other industry?  Ordering and shipping beer from a brewery is illegal in more places than wine.  And even if the SCOTUS votes that these laws are unconstitutional and wine may be shipped, it will not apply to beer.  My position is screw the wine industry and oenophiles unless they are willing to broaden their case to "alcohol sales" instead of "wine sales".
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Offline punatic

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2010, 11:16:10 PM »
I believe that Article IV, Section 2 of the US Constitution makes it illegal to apply different commerce laws to those in another State.  If shipping wine is legal within a State it must be legal to have wine shipped in from another State.  

Wine, beer, sake... bouef

However, if one is required to have a license to ship/sell wine within a State, all of those who ship/sell to that State must obtain the same license.  That can be a pretty hefty burden for shippers.  50 states - 50 licenses...

Without a doubt the 3-tier system is protectionism towards beverage wholesalers, and just plain sucks if you are not a wholesaler.  There are those who (notice who, not whom) are chipping away at the 3-tier system.  Wine sales in an on premise winery tasting room for instance.

I saw Fritz Maytag rail against the 3-tier system while giving a presentation about sales and profits from his rye whiskey distillery.  He made some good points and observations.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2010, 11:20:47 PM by punatic »
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Offline Wheat_Brewer

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2010, 08:13:18 AM »
"Such laws stifle consumer choice and keep prices artificially high. And they're a relic of Prohibition" Had to through this in there that the web wasn't around during prohibition...they missed each other by about 70 years, and prohibition was dismantled entirely before the web came around...not sure how the web and prohibition relate.

More seriously, I'm not a lawyer (but I am married to one) and I believe that under the commerce law a state has the right to enact taxes or restrictions on a product if the state is trying to protect or encourage it's own product growth.  The state of California is a perfect example where they have hundreds or thousands of wineries that they may want to protect from out of state wine companies.  Challenging a law on those grounds won't win.  If the challenge is based upon the grounds of business being stifled...I'm thinking that the court won't even hear it.  Just my opinion though. 
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Offline Malticulous

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2010, 12:05:02 PM »
States have constitutional right to the control Alcohol. Fedral judges have no say in it (not that the constitution is stopping them anymore.)

Offline skyler

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2010, 12:36:09 PM »
not sure how the web and prohibition relate.

When prohibition was dismantled, this system was put in its place. I think, among other reasons, it was to discourage bootlegging.

I believe that under the commerce law a state has the right to enact taxes or restrictions on a product if the state is trying to protect or encourage it's own product growth.

What you are describing is a patent violation of the commerce clause. Only the US congress (and not any state's government) may regulate interstate commerce. California can do nothing in the name of protecting its own wine industry against Oregonian or Italian wine - save for local tax breaks and licensing rules with regards to on-premises wine tasting rooms (and other such low-impact stuff).

The reason states can do ANYTHING to regulate the sale/distribution/serving laws of beer or wine or vodka between states is because state governments may provide for the health and safety of its citizens and residents. That means that, because alcohol is dangerous and unhealthy, a state may levy a special tax, require overly restrictive licenses, force sales to take place in state-run stores, limit ABV, allow certain counties to prohibit sale (dry counties), etc... This concept of alcohol as inherently dangerous and requiring regulation is pretty outdated, IMO, but it is the sole reason why beer is treated differently than soda.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2010, 01:46:34 PM by skyler »

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2010, 12:20:00 PM »
Quote from: skyler
The reason states can do ANYTHING to regulate the sale/distribution/serving laws of beer or wine or vodka between states is because state governments may provide for the health and safety of its citizens and residents. That means that, because alcohol is dangerous and unhealthy, a state may levy a special tax, require overly restrictive licenses, force sales to take place in state-run stores, limit ABV, allow certain counties to prohibit sale (dry counties), etc... This concept of alcohol as inherently dangerous and requiring regulation is pretty outdated, IMO, but it is the sole reason why beer is treated differently than soda.


Well, that and the 21st Amendment;)
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Offline geobrewer

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2010, 03:08:34 PM »
Quote from: skyler
The reason states can do ANYTHING to regulate the sale/distribution/serving laws of beer or wine or vodka between states is because state governments may provide for the health and safety of its citizens and residents. That means that, because alcohol is dangerous and unhealthy, a state may levy a special tax, require overly restrictive licenses, force sales to take place in state-run stores, limit ABV, allow certain counties to prohibit sale (dry counties), etc... This concept of alcohol as inherently dangerous and requiring regulation is pretty outdated, IMO, but it is the sole reason why beer is treated differently than soda.


Well, that and the 21st Amendment;)

Which says in Section 2:

The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Pretty clear.

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2010, 03:34:05 PM »
Right, and my point was that section 2 expressly gives individual states a huge amount of discretion to regulate alcohol.  The Supreme Court has recognized as much and has acknowledged that the 21st Amendment is essentially an exception to the federal government's commerce power.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2010, 03:39:20 PM by Pawtucket Patriot »
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Offline geobrewer

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2010, 03:40:11 PM »
Not sure what you're getting at, geobrewer. My point was that section 2 expressly gives individual states a huge amount of discretion to regulate alcohol.  The Supreme Court has recognized as much and has acknowledged that the 21st Amendment is essentially an exception to the federal government's commerce power.

Getting at what you just said, that's all  :)

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2010, 03:46:04 PM »
D'oh!  I edited my post after I realized that :-[.

Cheers!
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Offline punatic

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2010, 04:23:30 PM »
Right, and my point was that section 2 expressly gives individual states a huge amount of discretion to regulate alcohol.  The Supreme Court has recognized as much and has acknowledged that the 21st Amendment is essentially an exception to the federal government's commerce power.

Not true.  The 21st Amendment leaves the power to regulate intoxicating liquors, within their borders, to the States, but they must apply those laws equally to intrastate and interstate commerce.  Article 1, Sections 8 & 9 and Article IV, Section 2 still apply.



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Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2010, 04:38:19 PM »
Right, and my point was that section 2 expressly gives individual states a huge amount of discretion to regulate alcohol.  The Supreme Court has recognized as much and has acknowledged that the 21st Amendment is essentially an exception to the federal government's commerce power.

Not true.  The 21st Amendment leaves the power to regulate intoxicating liquors, within their borders, to the States, but they must apply those laws equally to intrastate and interstate commerce.  Article 1, Sections 8 & 9 and Article IV, Section 2 still apply.

We're saying the same thing. I should have clarified my comment by terming the commerce power as the "general" commerce power. You're correct to point out that supremacy and equal protection (as well as dormant commerce clause issues) still apply. But it's incorrect to say that what I posted is "not true."

Again, the point I was making was that state power to regulate liquor is not derived solely from states' police power. Rather, there are state and federal commerce issues involved too.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2010, 08:40:42 AM by Pawtucket Patriot »
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Offline punatic

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2010, 05:06:58 PM »
Not meaning to be argumentative, but what the 21st Amendment says is the 18th Amendment is repealed, and that the 21st Amendment prohibits intoxicating liquors from being transported for delivery and use into a dry local jurisdiction. (plus some procedural language about adoption of the Amendment).

The power to regulate liquor is left to the States by the 10th Amendment.
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Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: US Supreme Court may consider online alcohol sales case?
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2010, 05:46:36 PM »
So your argument is essentially that transportation, importation, delivery, and use are not broad categories within which the individual states have been expressly given regulatory power?  No disrespect, but I don't think that comports with either the text of the Amendment or relevant Supreme Court jurisprudence.

Because the 21st establishes express state powers related to alcohol (which, again have been accorded pretty broad discretion by SCOTUS), the 10th Amendment is inapplicable, as it only applies to powers that have not been expressly delegated.  Also, U.S. v Darby -- which is still good law -- established a long time ago that the 10th Amendment is a truism: is only reiterates the principles of federalism already inherent in the Constitution.  In other words, there aren't many, if any, actionable issues under the 10th Amendment.

P.S. I think we have successfully derailed the topic!   :o :P

edit: food for thought -- Granholm v. Heald, 544 U.S. 460 (2005).  In this relatively recent case, the Supreme Court recognized that the 21st Amendment "grants the States virtually complete control over whether to permit importation or sale of liquor and how to structure the liquor distribution system."

Also, let me clarify my above statements by saying that I'm not claiming the States have exclusive power to regulate alcohol.  Just that among the categories expressly mentioned in the 21st Amendment, the States have a huge amount of regulatory leeway.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2010, 06:57:53 PM by Pawtucket Patriot »
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