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Wine Laws -- Shipping, To-Go, and More

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Supreme Court has just ruled (5-4) that laws banning the shipment of wine between states are invalid.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, "States have broad power to regulate liquor. This power, however, does not allow states to ban, or severely limit, the direct shipment of out-of-state wine while simultaneously authorizing direct shipment by in-state producers."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/scotus_wine_shipments

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The only thing for us Free State residents is what our lovely state legislature and Gov. Bobby will do. The opinion only states that the states can't discriminate. The states could still ban all (intra- and inter-) state shipping. Add in the idiocy that is the Montgomery County Liquor Board, and it is not at all clear if we will be able to get wine shipped.

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The decision only applies directly to New York and Michigan. I suspect that there will be lots of cases bubbling up with regard to the laws of ther other states that ban direct shipment of wine by out of state wineries. State legislatures also will be looking at their laws in light of this decision. They could do one of three things: (1) repeal their existing law, (2) ban direct shipment of wine by all wineries, not just the out of state ones, (3) nothing (leave it up to the courts to stike down their law). One big winner will be the lawyers, what a litigation bonanza.

edited to add: Oh, and Congress could enact a statute that permits state laws that allow direct shipments of wine by in-state wineries and ban such shipments by out of state wineries. But I think the chances of that are low. Are there any wineries in Maryland?

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  One big winner will be the lawyers, what a litigation bonanza.

The bastards! :lol:

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The only thing for us Free State residents is what our lovely state legislature and Gov. Bobby will do. The opinion only states that the states can't discriminate. The states could still ban all (intra- and inter-) state shipping. Add in the idiocy that is the Montgomery County Liquor Board, and it is not at all clear if we will be able to get wine shipped.

Maryland already bans in-state shipping, right? So it doesn't apply. Bastards.

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Maryland already bans in-state shipping, right?  So it doesn't apply.  Bastards.

I don't know.

edited to add: Oh, and Congress could enact a statute that permits state laws that allow direct shipments of wine by in-state wineries and ban such shipments by out of state wineries.  But I think the chances of that are low.  Are there any wineries in Maryland?

Yeah, but would any such state laws still run up against the inter-state trade amendment? Last I looked a Constitutional Amendment trumps any law subsequently passed by Congress.

Yeah, a few wineries.

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I don't know.

Yeah, but would any such state laws still run up against the inter-state trade amendment? Last I looked a Constitutional Amendment trumps any law subsequently passed by Congress.

Yeah, a few wineries.

The Supremes at least said that wine is an "emerging and significant business" with more small wineries needing direct sales because of the consolidating of the wholesale business. They said that the Commerce Clause trumps the part of the Twenty-first Amendment that the state's were using to justify allowing in-state wineries to sell directly to consumers but not letting, or making it extremely hard, for out of state wineries to do the same thing. So, it's back to the drawing boards for the other states that were doing what MI and NY were doing. And Congress can try to amend its laws to carve out protections for intrastate wine shipments - but they're pretty busy with other silly stuff right now.

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The Commerce Clause gives to Congress the exclusive power to regulate interstate commence. What we have here is the states enacting laws that discriminate against out of state goods. Those laws are unconstututional because they are not authorized by Congress. It is not a matter of amending the Constitution, it is a matter of Congress exercising the power given it by the Commerce Clause. All those statutes that were enacted by Congress prior to prohibition are exercises of Commerce Clause power. Congress could wave its legislative magic wand and authorize the sort of discrimination that the Court found unconstitutional.

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Yes Congress could wave its wand, but I doubt it will -- there is a pretty strong "free wine" caucus in the House led by a Republican member, George Radonovich, who is himself owner of the eponymous Radonovich Vinyards. It may be that the abstemious part of the GOP could trump the free trade part, but I doubt it.

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Plus most if not all of the California delegation must be pro-wine shipment, and that makes a pretty large block

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yeah, I would think other "wine" states like VA, OR, WA, etc.. vote for it too. :lol:

Hmmm. I'm not sure about this. NY is a "wine state" however it is one of those that actively banned out of state shipments.

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I would think that "wine states" would vote against authorizing discriminatory treatment against out of state wineries. Right now, Congress has a lot on its plate and I don't see this coming up anytime soon. In the Senate, it likley would go before the Commerce Committee which has several members from "wine states." I don't see such a bill making it out of committee in the Senate. In the House, probably the Judiciary Committee which has 7 members from CA alone.

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I think we all agree that Congress is unlikely to act on this. Change will likely only happen at the state level, such as NJ which rescinded intra-state shipping as they saw this decision coming down the pike.

Now that I finally read the front page of the Post today, I actually know some of the situation around our area

VA - Allows shipment of 1 case per month

DC - Allows shipment of 1 bottle per month

MD - Shit out of luck

My personal plan is to continue to support Free The Grapes in their efforts to get these jurisdictions (esp. MD :lol: ) to open up to wine shipments.

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I would think that "wine states" would vote against authorizing discriminatory treatment against out of state wineries.  Right now, Congress has a lot on its plate and I don't see this coming up anytime soon.  In the Senate, it likley would go before the Commerce Committee which has several members from "wine states." I don't see such a bill making it out of committee in the Senate.  In the House, probably the Judiciary Committee which has 7 members from CA alone.

You also have some big free trade types on Senate Commerce.

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Although not addressed by the court's action yesterday, I really wonder whether the "quantity shipped" issue should be looked at. (Granted, there's no one whose going to make it a priority). But I agree that the one bottle of wine per month in the District is a joke. And who enforces that? Who's liable for a violation? The buyer? The shipper? What if the buyer gets one bottle from 12 different vineyards? Not to mention the fact that if it's perfectly legal to go to a store and buy ten cases, why not have them shipped if shipping is permitted.

Who writes these laws??!!! And were they bombed when they wrote them?

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I used to work with a fellow who is now a member of the MD legislature, representing Mont. County. I'd be happy to arrange a meeting with him for those of you in MD. Perhaps you could get him to introduce a bill repealing the MD restriction.

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Although not addressed by the court's action yesterday, I really wonder whether the "quantity shipped" issue should be looked at.  (Granted, there's no one whose going to make it a priority).  But I agree that the one bottle of wine per month in the District is a joke.  And who enforces that?  Who's liable for a violation?  The buyer?  The shipper?  What if the buyer gets one bottle from 12 different vineyards?  Not to mention the fact that if it's perfectly legal to go to a store and buy ten cases, why not have them shipped if shipping is permitted.

Who writes these laws??!!!  And were they bombed when they wrote them?

The DC government is committed to extracting it's alchohol tax which is double the rate of VA. I've heard reports of DC residents who purchased a case or two in VA getting stopped and searched by DC cops upon their return to the District. No wonder they have imposed this -- basically unenforceable -- restriction on shipments. It would seem that the discriminatory aspect of this is fairly clear, but may require additional litigation to overturn.

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The DC government is committed to extracting it's alchohol tax which is double the rate of VA.  I've heard reports of DC residents who purchased a case or two in VA getting stopped and searched by DC cops upon their return to the District.  No wonder they have imposed this -- basically unenforceable -- restriction on shipments.  It would seem that the discriminatory aspect of this is fairly clear, but may require additional litigation to overturn.

Actually, I think it is the other way around. The tax in VA is double that of DC. The prices on liquor in DC are much lower than they are at the VaABC stores. In the hey day of Central Liquors, the VA revenoors used to stake out the parking lot and watch for cars with VA plates loading up. They would follow the car across the river and stop them once they were in VA. DC sued VA in federal court and got an injunction against VA stopping the practice.

Unless of course, your comment is limited to wine. In that case, VA might have a lower tax than DC, but I don't think it is double.

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Did some quick research -

SALES tax on liquor

DC - 8%

VA - 4%

MD - 5%

BUT, this does not include any of the excise tax or other accounting tricks that VA ABC puts into its liquor prices.

DC and MD have close to the same excise taxes on beer and wine, VA is MUCH higher (basically triple).

Overall pricing will require more testing. Not to mention to start comparing non-Montgomery County parts of MD.

Edited by JPW

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This ruling does not only apply to NY and MI, it provides president to negate all such shipping laws. From what I have been told by an attorney who is involved with the case (winning side), all aspects of discrimination against out-of-state wineries, and possibly retailers, are null-and-void. That means that the portion of the new Texas law allowing direct shipping, that puts limits on the amount wine that can be imported in to the state is not legally binding. If Virginia only allows one case per month to be delivered from either an in-state or out-of-state winery than that will stand.

As for Maryland, it was Glendening's anti-alcohol zeal that moved the legislature to make it a felony to ship into the state. He is no where to be found, so there could be a possibility that the law can be changed.

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Did some quick research -

BUT, this does not include any of the excise tax or other accounting tricks that VA ABC puts into its liquor prices.

Overall pricing will require more testing. Not to mention to start comparing non-Montgomery County parts of MD.

It has been my experience that Virginia liquor prices are not that different than what you will find in DC, and no where near as high as MoCo.

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It has been my experience that Virginia liquor prices are not that different than what you will find in DC, and no where near as high as MoCo.

Not always.

For one, occasionally the MoCo stores have great sales.

I only go to a couple places in the district, but, for example, the Magruder's regular price on Maker's Mark is much higher than MoCo regular price .

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