Monday, May 16, 2005

Let the Wine Flow

No matter where you live, you can now buy wine directly from out-of-state vendors. The Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional state laws that ban residents from ordering wine from out-of-state. While states have broad authority to regulate alcohol under the 21st Amendment, the court said that states have no right to allow wine to be sold by local distributors while barring out-of-state vendors from selling the same product.

This ruling justifiably overturns laws in 24 states. After all, states do not have the authority to regulate interstate commerce. No one would suggest that a state could legally stop its residents from buying books or music from another state. Simply, there's nothing in the 21st amendment that grants states interstate commerce powers over alcohol.

It’ll be interesting to see if this ruling receives any serious criticism from the “judicial activism is wrong” crowd—particularly since strict-constructionist Antonin Scalia broke ranks with his conservative cohorts to vote with the majority in the 5-4 ruling.

UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge has a great analysis as to why the justices voted the way they did. Very interesting.


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