Wine & the Commerce Clause

Granholm v. Heald:
Supreme Court Direct Shipping Decision
NAWR-Amicus in Lenscrafters Case: Supporting Supreme C0urt Petition on Free Trade
NAWR Supreme Court Petition in Wine Country v. Steen

NAWR’s 5th Circuit Appeals Court Brief in Wine Country v. Steen

Wine retailers, as well as every other business and industry in America, rely on the potency and reliability of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. Found in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, the Commerce Clause gives to the federal government the power to regulate inter-state commerce. The Commerce Clause reads:

“The Congress shall have Power to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes”

An important implication of the Commerce Clause is that since the federal government is granted the power to regulate commerce between the states, there must be an equally important restriction prohibiting a state from passing legislation that improperly burdens or discriminates against interstate commerce.

This Constitutional restriction upon individual states from passing burdensome and discriminatory law concerning inter-state commerce is critical in this era of Internet commerce. Unfortunately retailers have for many years confronted states, lawmakers and their allies in the alcohol beverage industry that support discriminatory and protectionist laws prohibiting wine retailers from shipping wine across state lines.

Members of the alcohol beverage industry seeking protection from competition have worked tirelessly to convince lawmakers, judges and others that the Constitutional grant of power to the states to regulate the sale and distribution of alcohol means the states may also interfere with interstate commerce concerning wine.

Amendment that granted states power to regulate alcohol sales and distribution. NAWR will continue to work to educate the alcohol beverage industry, the media and the legal community on the critical importance of a proper understanding of the Commerce Clause and the need to assure a level playing field for wine commerce that has at its foundation an honest and consistent understanding the United States Constitution.

This foundation has been eroded by well-funded special interests who have used their money and political power to discriminate against wine consumers and wine retailers by banning wine shipments from out of state retailers, while at the same time allowing shipping of wine from in-state retailers.

Various courts have determined this kind of commercial discrimination both constitutional and unconstitutional in a variety of different court cases. NAWR will continue to support its members and consumers by continuing to challenge laws that serve to merely protect anti-competitive interests. NAWR will continue to lobby, litigate and educate where these unconstitutional laws remain in place, obstructing free and fair trade.