Supreme Court Wine Decision A Win for Constitution, Consumers

Supreme Court Wine Decision A Win for Constitution, Consumers

May 16, 2005

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Christine Hall, 202.331.2258


Washington, D.C., May 16, 2005—In a ruling that bolsters the U.S. Constitution and benefits consumers, the Supreme Court on Monday struck down state laws banning interstate wine sales.


Old-economy regulations shield established industries from having to adapt to new and better ways of doing business. All too often, regulators skew the regulatory process in favor of established, "traditional" off-line companies.


“The Supreme Court stood up for consumer freedom and choice,” said Braden Cox, technology counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  “All consumers benefit as unrestricted e-commerce makes economic transactions more efficient and less costly,” said Cox.


“Unfortunately, states often pass legislation to serve and protect narrow constituencies,” said Cox.  “Under the rationale of protecting consumers, regulators have enacted rules banning the online purchase of wine, contact lenses, and even caskets.”


“Today’s ruling will help put an end to states protecting brick-and-mortar businesses and allow all businesses to serve consumers on an equal footing,” said Cox.


The court ruled in a 5-4 decision that <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />New York and Michigan laws outlawing outlawing out-of-state wine purchases.  A reported 24 states have similar such laws.


Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, saying that the power to regulate alcohol doesn’t allow states to ban or severely limit out-of-state transactions in favor of in-state transactions.


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.