8th Circuit Affirms Decision Denying Wholesaler Licenses to Non-Residents in Southern Wine & Spirits case
Today the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals released
its decision in the Southern Wine & Spirits challenge to Missouri’s
residency requirements. You can read our
previous posts on
this case here, but briefly, in case you’ve forgotten what led to this
sued when Missouri denied it a wholesaler’s license based on the Missouri
statute requiring actual Missouri residency of the directors and officers of
companies seeking wholesaler licenses. (Southern’s officers are Florida
district court granted judgment to Missouri, rejecting Southern’s claims that
the residency requirements of the Missouri statute violated the Commerce, Equal
Protection, and Privileges and Immunities clauses of the Constitution. Southern appealed.
You can read the 8th Circuit’s opinion here. In short, the Court upheld the
constitutionality of the residency requirement law in Missouri. The state conceded that requiring in-state
residency discriminated against interstate commerce, but said that he 21st
Amendment authorized states to do so.
The Court’s opinion basically uses this fact as a jumping-off point for
structuring its analysis and decision and, as we’ve seen in some other examples,
cites to that dicta in the Granholm v. Heald
decision which quoted Justice Scalia’s language in the North
Dakota v. U.S. case stating that that three-tier system was
unquestionably legitimate. The
distinction the Court draws from this starting point is one within the
three-tiered system stating that Granholm
dealt with the producer tier, not the wholesaler tier and that in the
wholesaler tier, the dicta from Granholm
via North Dakota somehow means that
an in-state residency requirement is legitimate.
We’ll have more on this
decision later, but for now, unless there’s a petition to the U.S. Supreme
Court, it looks like Missouri’s residency requirement stands.