BREAKING! – SCOTUS grants cert. in Byrd: Out-of-state retailers to be heard on issue of commerce clause discrimination.
Today the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in the Sixth Circuit’s Tennessee Wine and Spirits Ass’n v. Byrd et al, matter. You can see the Supreme Court docket for the case here. We’ve uploaded copies of the petition for writ of certiorari (the request to be heard in front of the Supreme Court) here, the response in opposition to the request, as well as the reply filed by Tennessee Spirits Association.
The question presented is simple and will fundamentally change the nature of alcohol sales by taking them national if correctly decided:
Whether the Twenty-first Amendment empowers States, consistent with the dormant Commerce Clause, to regulate liquor sales by granting retail or wholesale licenses only to individuals or entities that have resided in-state for a specified time.
While the Byrd matter dealt with a challenge to a length-in-residency requirement that kept applicants from obtaining retail licenses within the state unless their period of residency met the statutory required two-year period, the issues here reach well beyond that into whether states have a right to effectively discriminate against out-of-state retailers in favor of in-state retailers by imposing restrictions on licensure which require residency. The circuits have been split on this issue for a while and the companion issue of whether or not the commerce clause holdings of Granholm can be applied beyond manufacturers to other tiers of the three tier system.
Those lobbying groups with members kept fat by discriminating against out-of-state competition for retail sales certainly would like to see the Sixth Circuit decision overturned. For those of you who would like to purchase alcohol from anywhere provided the retailer pays the proper taxes in your state and has a license issued by that state – a win here may finally offer you a chance as consumers to purchase alcohol at nationally competitive prices, instead of state-granted-monopoly-inflated-prices. Let’s hope SCOTUS comes out on the side of the commerce clause and in favor of federal commerce and not state discrimination disguised under “21st Amendment” language.