Home Industry News Releases Retailers Urge Michigan Lawmaker to Fix State’s Unconstitutional Wine Shipping Law

Retailers Urge Michigan Lawmaker to Fix State’s Unconstitutional Wine Shipping Law

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August 29, 2019 (Lansing, MI)—State lawmakers are once again being called on to fix an unconstitutional Michigan wine shipping law. The National Association of Wine Retailers is urging the legislature to repeal the ban on wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers and wine stores that a Federal judge ruled unconstitutional…for a second time. 

The decision, issued last September by Federal Judge Arthur Tarnow in Lebamoff v Snyder, ruled that Michigan’s law banning out-of-state wine retailer shipments violated the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause by interfering with interstate commerce via protectionist legislation. 

Judge Tarnow stayed his order that enjoined the state from enforcing its ban pending the Supreme Court ruling on a critical wine case, which was handed down in June. In June in Tennessee Wine v Thomas, the Supreme Court reiterated that states may not enact protections alcohol laws that burden interstate commerce, including laws impacting retailers. This was exactly the analysis Judge Tarnow applied in the Lebamoff v Snyder case.

Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Give Bad Advice to Lawmakers Over and Over Again

“It is high time Michigan lawmakers dismiss the pleas of special interests who have four times now convinced the state to defend protectionist wine shipping laws they claimed are ‘just fine’ and that have four times been overturned in federal courts as unconstitutional,” said Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers. “It’s time for the legislature to craft a constitutional law that doesn’t seek to protect special interests, but rather allows Michigan consumers to receive wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers and the state to collect sales tax on those shipments.”

In 2016 when lawmakers passed SB 1088 that banned wine shipments from out-of-state retailers and was recently ruled unconstitutional by Judge Tarnow, the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association assured lawmakers the law’s discrimination against out-of-state wine retailers was perfectly permissible and could not be challenged. This was despite the fact that the exact same law, also advocated by the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers back in 2008, was ruled unconstitutional in a Michigan Federal Court. 

“Michigan taxpayers have watched hundreds of thousands if not millions of their dollars spent on the defense of bad laws pushed by the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers,” notes Wark. “Michigan has lost wine shipping cases twice in Michigan Federal District Court, once in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and once at the Supreme Court — all cases urged and joined by the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers. We think it’s time the Michigan lawmakers do something for Michigan consumers and Michigan taxpayers and ignore the advice of Michigan beer and wine wholesalers.”

About The National Association of Wine Retailers

The National Association of Wine Retailers represents wine stores, Internet wine retailers, wine auction houses and wine-of-the-month clubs from across the country. Its stated mission is to create a level playing field for wine sale through well-regulated wine shipping laws and regulations. For more information see www.nawr.org.

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