Oral arguments were held yesterday in the important Supreme Court case challenging Tennessee’s durational residency requirement for liquor licenses (for more on how the oral arguments went see here). The case involves the intersection of the U.S. Constitution’s 21st Amendment and the Dormant Commerce Clause, and R Street’s Jarrett Dieterle filmed the following short explainer video about the case for the Federalist Society:
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the important alcohol case challenging Tennessee’s durational residency requirement (previously discussed on DrinksReform.org here). The Tennessee law at issue requires liquor retailers in the state to have had an in-state presence for 2 years before they will be granted a license (and an in-state presence of 10-years in order to be able to renew the license each year). According to the Washington Post, several of the Justices expressed skepticism toward the Tennessee law:
Supreme Court justices indicated Wednesday that they thought Tennessee’s tough residency requirements for those who want to run liquor stores have more to do with protecting in-state economic interests than guarding against the evils of alcohol.
But they also wondered how far they could go, since the Constitution gives states an especially pivotal role in regulating booze…
Several justices, most vocally Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel A. Alito Jr., were skeptical.
Under questioning, [Tennessee Wine attorney] Dvoretzky said neither a 10-year residency requirement nor a hypothetical requirement that an applicant’s grandparents be residents would be a violation of the dormant-commerce clause, nor even a statute that said the restriction was for the “exclusive purpose of protecting in-state retailers.”
Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh said the text of the constitutional amendment gives the states power over the “transportation or importation” of liquor into their states. “Why isn’t that most naturally read to allow states to remain dry . . . but not to otherwise impose discriminatory or, as Justice Alito says, protectionist regulations?” [More here].
As the popular SCOTUSBlog noted, however, it’s still unclear how the case will ultimately come out since several of the Justices were silent and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was absent from the hearing. A final decision from the Court is expected by the summer.
For more on the case and what it entails, check out this explainer video R Street’s Jarrett Dieterle filmed with the Federalist Society.
Food policy expert Baylen Linnekin dedicated his latest Reason.com column to the anniversary of Prohibition being repealed, as well as the burdensome booze regs alcohol producers still endure:
"Next week will mark the 84th anniversary of the ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment, which repealed alcohol Prohibition. The repeal of Prohibition is worth celebrating, even if the amendment was (and remains) a deeply flawed vehicle.
The chief flaw with the Amendment is, as I wrote earlier this year, that it "simply shifted much of the power to prohibit and incessantly regulate alcohol from the federal government to the states."
States have truly made the most of their teetotalitarian authority for decades, to the detriment of both alcohol producers and—much more so—consumers.
Much of the negative impacts of states' approach to alcohol regulation can be tied to what's known as the three-tier system, a Prohibition relic under which states generally prohibit direct alcohol sales from a brewer, vintner, or distiller to a consumer. The three-tier system mandates these alcohol producers first sell to a distributor or retailer—a mandatory middleman—who can then sell to actual drinkers..."