Breaking: SCOTUS Upholds Constitution

Filed in PoliticsTags: Food/Wine, Judiciary

Supports Legitimate Constitutional Function of Federal Government; Prohibits Discriminatory Bans on Inter-State Wine Sales reports on the decision yesterday by the Supreme Court of the United States, striking down laws forbidding direct shipments of wine from out-of-state.

In a long overdue ruling that split Justices Antonin Scalia (who sided with Breyer, Ginsburg and Stevens) and Clarence Thomas, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws forbidding direct shipments of wine from out-of-state. While proponents of such laws used the prevention of underage drinking as their pretext, the Court saw through this facade and acknowledged that the true purpose was simply to protect both in-state wine producers and wine distributors' profits.

Great news for my parents, who live in the People's Republic of Maryland, which, not surprisingly, has some of the most restrictive laws on out-of-state wine shipments. I, on the other hand, live in Missouri, which is already a reciprocity state.

The post also points out how the CNN report misses the crux of the ruling, referencing the 21st Amendment, rather than Commerce Clause:

As usual, the MSM gets it wrong. The AP article states that the case centered on the 21st Amendment. While it was relevant, the opinion focused on the fact that the 21st Amendment did not give States the power to discriminate in interstate commernce, so the Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3) ruled the day. In this case, laws were ruled unconstitutional because they actually contravened actual constitutional provisions that actually exist. That's what distinguishes it from run-of-the-mill liberal judicial activism.

To refresh your memory, the Commerce Clause is as follows:

The Congress shall have Power...To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

A further reading of the rest of the U.S. Constitution with respect to limitations on the rights of the States clearly indicates a prejudice against discriminatory anti-competition practices between states.

The dissenting opinions centered on two arguments: the right of the States to regulate liquor sales, and the impact striking down inter-state wine shipments would have on sales of liquor to minors. However, as the majority pointed out, addressing the first issue:

The details and mechanics of the two regulatory schemes differ, but the object and effect of the laws are the same: to allow in-state wineries to sell wine directly to consumers in that State but to prohibit out-of-state wineries from doing so, or, at the least, to make direct sales impractical from an economic standpoint. It is evident that the object and design of the Michigan and New York statutes is to grant in-state wineries a competitive advantage over wineries located beyond the States' borders.

We hold that the laws in both States discriminate against interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause... and that the discrimination is neither authorized nor permitted by the Twenty-first Amendment.

And in response to the latter:

The States provide little evidence that the purchase of wine over the Internet by minors is a problem. Indeed, there is some evidence to the contrary. A recent study by the staff of the FTC found that the 26 States currently allowing direct shipments report no problems with minors' increased access to wine... Without concrete evidence that direct shipping of wine is likely to increase alcohol consumption by minors, we are left with the States' unsupported assertions. Under our precedents, which require the "clearest showing" to justify discriminatory state reulation... this is not enough.

Read the opinion for yourself; the majority completely discredit these claims.

For those of you soon to be freed from discriminatory out-of-state wine shipment laws, refer back to my post on Missouri Wineries and sample what the country's first officially designated wine district has to offer.

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Professor Bainbridge


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One Response to “Breaking: SCOTUS Upholds Constitution”
  1. Tom Hatcher says:

    Maybe you should read the Constitution, too. I have, many times. I’m now going to read the opinions and dissents. It seems to me “strict constructionists” reason by citing a law, the Constitution. or the history, looking for the intent. The “non-strict constructionists” or “judicial activists” reason from previous cases.
    The strict constructionists lost.