Supreme Court Asked To Review Discrimination In Wine Shipping

on 01/12/10 at 2:58 pm


In asking the Supreme Court of the United States to grant a review of the case of Wine Country Gift Baskets v. Steen, a coalition of American wine retailers hopes the high court will to bring a definitive end to the ongoing interstate trade war over the direct shipment of wine. The battle over direct shipment of wine is one that rages on even in the wake of the groundbreaking 2005 Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court wine case, but that has switched battle grounds from wine producers to wine retailers.

At issue in the case of Wine Country Gift Baskets v. Steen, decided in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, is whether, notwithstanding the 2005 Granholm v. Heald decision that determined States may not discriminate against out-of-state wine producers, the Twenty-first Amendment overrides the Commerce Clause and allows States to discriminate against out-of-state wine stores. The Specialty Wine Retailers petitioning the Supreme Court contend that the Fifth Circuit, as well as the Second Circuit, has turned the Granholm decision upside down. Rather than construing the Granholm decision as a prohibition against discrimination, these courts have interpreted that decision as a license for states to discriminate against inter-state commerce.

Wine Country Gift Baskets v. Steen originated as a lawsuit challenging Texas law that allows Texas wine stores to ship wine direct to Texans, while prohibiting out-of-state wine stores from doing the same. A Federal District Court in Texas ruled the law unconstitutional based on the 2005 Granholm v. Heald Supreme Court ruling that declared, “in all but the narrowest circumstances, state laws violate the Commerce Clause if they mandate differential treatment of in-state and out-of-state economic interests that benefits the former and burdens the latter.”

{Full story via BusinessWire}

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