Tennessee Wine v Thomas

In September 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Cert to Tennessee Wine & Spirit Retailers v. Byrd, later referred to as TN Wine v Blair, then subsequently and finally referred to as Tennessee Wine v Thomas (all due to personnel changes at the top of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The raises the question, may a state discriminate against out-of-state entities while pursuing their 21st amendment police powers over alcohol sales and distribution? On its face, the case is about the constitutionality of Tennessee’s 2-year durational residency requirement before a retail license may be issued. However, the case also has a direct impact on discriminatory retailer wine shipping laws that prohibit the shipment of wine from retailers located outside the state.

On June 25, 2019, following oral arguments in January, the Supreme Court, with Justice Samual Alito writing for a 7-2 majority, affirmed the decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of appeals that Tennessee’s durational residency requirement was unconstitutional. In the process, Justice Alito explicitly held that the non-discrimination and anti-protectionist principles laid out in the 2005 Granholm v Heald decision that opened up the direct shipment of wine for retailers also applied to retailers.

Below is a record of the case and media coverage of the case.


District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
District Court Decision (Judge Sharp) 4/14/17

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
Oral Arguments 11/20/17
Circuit Court Decision (2/21/18)

United States Supreme Court
Granholm v. Heald (2005)
TN Retailers Assoc Petition for Writ of Certiorari (7/20/18)
Total Wine Reply to Petition for Cert in Opposition (8/16/18)
TN Retailers Reply to Total on Cert (9/4/18)
SCOTUS: Certiorari Granted (9/27/18)
SCOTUS: Oral Argument Date Set: January 16, 2018
Tennessee Wine & Spirit Retailers SCOTUS Brief (11/16/180)
Total Wine Respondent Brief (12/13/18)
Affluere Investments Respondent Brief (12/23/18)
Joint Motion by 34 Attorneys General and Tennessee Retailers for Divided Argument (12/17/18)
Joint Motion by Afflueres and Total Wine for Divided Argument (12/17/18)
Tennessee Retailers Reply Brief (1/4/19)
Oral Arguments Transcript (1/16/19)

Supreme Court Decision: Tennessee Wine v Thomas (6/26/19


IN SUPPORT OF APPELLANT (TN Wine & Spirit Retailers)
Alcohol Policy Alliance
National Conference of State Legislatures
American Beverage Licensees
Center for Alcohol Policy
Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America
Tennessee Wine & Spirit Wholesalers
Open Markets
National Beer Wholesalers of America
National Alcohol Beverage Control States
Thirty-Four States
Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers
Major Brands
KHBC Partners
Consumer Action

-National Association of Wine Retailers
-Wine Consumers
Law & Economic Scholars
Retail Litigation Center
Pacific Legal Foundation
Cato Institute
Law Professors
Alan Morrison


Sixth Circuit Strikes Discriminatory Alcohol Law (2/22/18)
Constitutional Law Prof Blog

Sixth Circuit Strikes Down Residency Requirements (2/27/18)
GSRM Alcohol Beverage Law Blog

Durational Residency Requirements Unconstitutional (3/3/18)
Alcohol Law Advisor

Son of Granholm Inches Closer (7/2/18)
Alcohol Law Advisor

Is Granholm II Coming to the Wine Industry? (7/24/18)
FERMENTATION: The Daily Wine Blog

Supreme Court Has a Chance to Decide if States Can Discriminate Against Wine Retailer Shipping (7/24/18)

Tennessee Retailers Petition Supreme Court (8/27/18)
Wine Business Blog

Supreme Court Grants Cert in Tennessee Retailers Case (9/27/18
Alcohol Law Review

BREAKING—SCOTUS Grants Cert in Byrd: Out-of-State Retailers to Be Heard On Issue of Commerce Clause Discrimination (9/27/18)
Libation Law Blog

Supreme Court to Decide on Residency Requirements (9/27/18)
Waller Blog

Granholm 2!! (9/28/18)
Wine Business Blog

Supreme Court To Review State Residency Requirements (9/28/18)
National Law Review

Could The Supreme Court Strike Down Bans on Retailer Direct Shipping (9/28/18)
Wine Spectator

Byrd v Tennessee Wine & Spirit Retailers Assoc (10/1/18)
Alcohol Law Advisor

Supreme Court Grants Cert on Granholm-Like Case For Retailers (10/1/18)
Libation Law Blog

Are Durational Residency Requirements for Alcohol Retailers Constitutional? (10/3/18)
National Conference of State Legislators

Supreme Court to Revisit Case of Wine Shipping (10/11/18)

A Wine Case Worth Watching in the Supreme Court (10/12/18)
Constitution Daily

The Supreme Court Must Rule on Wine Retailer Shipping (10/12/18)
FERMENTATION: The Daily Wine Blog

Will Byrd Actually Tackle the Most Important Constitutional Issue? (10/15/18)
The Irish Liquor Lawyer

U.S. Wine Retailers and the Constitutional Right to Ship Out-of-State (10/16/18)

Wine Shipping Goes Back to the Supreme Court – PODCAST (10/22/18)
Wine For Normal People Podcast

A Crucial Decision: SCOTUS Takes On Retailer Residency Requirements (10/27/18)

Wine, Consumers and the Court (11/5/18)
Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog

Courts Take a Closer Look at Wine Shipping (11/7/18)
Wine-Searcher News

Wine Consumers to Fund Supreme Court Amicus Brief on Wine Shipping Case (11/13/18)
Wine Freedom

Wine Consumers Must Take Matters Into Their Own Hands (11/13/18)
FERMENTATION: The Daily Wine Blog

Money Pours Into GoFundMe as Wine Fight Spills Into Supreme Court (11/16/18)
Bloomberg Law

Old Vines in the New World: Byrd v Tennessee
University of Cincinnati Law Review (11/17/18)

Alcohol Retailers Lead The Charge on a New Round of Constitutional Challenges (11/16/18)
The Legal Intelligencer at Law.com

WSWA Backs Tennessee Law in Residency Case Against Total Wine (11/21/18)
Shanken Daily

Court Decision Crucial for Wine Shipping (12/1/18)
Wine Searcher

Wine & The Courts: Key 2018 Wine Trends #3 (12/31/18)
FERMENTATION: The Daily Wine Blog

Liquor Store War (January 1, 2019)
ABA Journal

Can States Block Newcomers From Earning a Living – Video (1/2/19)
Institute For Justice

Supreme Court Decision on Obsolete Liquor Laws to Provide Clarity (1/3/19)
USA Today

Impending Supreme Court Hearing Could Open Doors ((1/8/19)
Wine Searcher

Friends of Supreme Court See Trouble Brewing (1/9/19)
Wine Searcher

Argument Preview: Tennessee v Bair (1/9/19)

The Supreme Court May Change the Way You Buy Wine (1/10/19)
New York Times

Will the Supreme Court Upend Wine Laws Across the Country? (1/11/19)
Wine Spectator

Supreme Court to Hear Liquor Stores Fight Against ‘Good Old Boys’ System that Bans Competition (1/14/19)

Check List for Tennessee Wine Supreme Court Oral Arguments (1/14/19)
Irish Liquor Lawyer

Supreme Court Decision Expected on State Wine Law (1/15/19)
Wine Enthusiast

Here’s Why the Supreme Court May Be Uncorking Wine Sales Soon in a City Near You (1/15/19)

Supreme Court Hears the Retailer Challenge to Tennessee Liquor Law (1/16/19)
ABC News