SCOTUS Backs Down from Another Wine Case | Wine-Searcher News & Features – Wine-Searcher

January 10, 2023 by No Comments

The US Supreme Court has again declined to hear a case pivotal to fixing the country’s confusing wine shipping laws.

© OhBillyBoy/Pixabay | The Supreme Court seems reluctant to address the current interstate shipping laws.

For the third time in two years, the US Supreme Court considered taking a case regarding interstate wine shipping by retailers, but ultimately declined to do so.

That leaves US wine shipping laws in the same bewildering patchwork they were before a Supreme Court ruling in 2019 that appeared to settle the issue. Some states allow in-state retailers to ship wine to their residents while denying out-of-state retailers; other states, following the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2019 Tennessee case, treat in-state and out-of-state wine shops equally. The two approaches seem irreconcilable but so far the Court has refused to step in and reconcile them.

“I don’t understand why they’re not taking these cases,” said Chicago-based beverage alcohol attorney Sean O’Leary, who filed an amicus brief in the most recent case. “It’s just getting more muddled each time a decision comes out. I’ve been disappointed after Tennessee Wine. I thought that settled the issue. I think most people in America thought that settled the issue.”

On Monday the Court declined without comment to take the case of B-21 Wines v. Bauer. B-21 is a wine shop in Florida that wanted to ship to customers in North Carolina, where Hank Bauer is head of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. North Carolina allows local retailers to ship to customers but not out-of-state retailers. That law was upheld by a federal appeals court.

B-21’s attorneys, Indiana-based James Tanford and Robert Epstein, filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, as they have done in more than a half-dozen similar cases around the country. This one attracted the Supreme Court’s attention enough for it to request, in November, that both sides present argument briefs. Last Friday, the Court’s justices met privately to discuss which new cases they might want to take. On Monday, they issued a regular weekly docket indicating that they will not take this one – the technical term is “certiorari denied” – thus leaving the North Carolina law in place.

There was always a problem with the logic for SCOTUS to take this case, though, and it has to do with two other similar cases, one in Indiana and one in Illinois. In both of those cases, it appears as though the appeals courts will eventually rule the exact opposite of what the appeals court ruled in the North Carolina case: that state laws must treat in-state and out-of-state retailers wishing to ship wine the same. If …….



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