Michigan's Out-of-State Wine Rules Struck Down Again


In the landmark 2005 case of Granhom v. Heald, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Michigan’s law forbidding out-of-state wineries from shipping directly to Michigan consumers was unconstitutional. In the aftermath of the case, Michigan and other states interpreted the decision narrowly, declaring that while it applied to wineries, it did not apply to wine retailers. In a new lawsuit, a federal judge rejected this line of reasoning, as recapped by Wine Spectator:

After two years of legal volleys, lawyers challenging restrictions on wine direct shipping notched an important victory on Sept. 28. A federal judge in Michigan has ruled that the state's prohibition on direct-to-consumer wine shipping from out-of-state retailers is unconstitutional. If the ruling stands, Michigan residents will be able to purchase wine from stores anywhere in the country and have it shipped to their homes.

Robert Epstein, lawyer for Cap n' Cork, an Indiana chain of wine stores and plaintiffs in the case, hopes it is a bellwether for the shipping options of wine lovers across the country. "What has been accomplished is a first step in opening up shipping by retailers around the country to out-of-state clients," Epstein told Wine Spectator.

Lebamoff Enterprises, Inc. et al v. Snyder et al is one of three similar cases undertaken by the Indianapolis-based law firm Epstein, Cohen, Seif & Porter. The other two were filed in Illinois and Missouri. In each, the plaintiffs argue that state bans on out-of-state retailer direct shipping violate the U.S. Constitution's dormant Commerce Clause and Privileges and Immunities Clause…

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