On Friday the United States District Court Eastern District of Michigan ruled Michigan’s discriminatory ban on wine shipments from out-of-state retailers is unconstitutional and enjoined Michigan from enforcing the ban on out of state retailer shipping. This marks the fourth time a federal court found a Michigan wine shipping law unconstitutional. The National Association of Wine Retailers applauds the ruling as a victory for consumers, wine merchants and free trade.
In Lebamoff Enterprises v. Snyder, Judge Arthur J. Turnow wrote:
“The governing question, therefore, is whether Michigan is permitted to enforce a statute that explicitly denies out-of-state retailers a privilege available to their in-state competitors. The answer at this stage must be no….Michigan cannot demonstrate that permitting in-state retailers to ship directly to consumers while denying out-of-state retailers the right to do the same is inherent to its three-tier system…when it starts carving exceptions out of that system, it must do so without resorting to economic protectionism.”
Judge Tarnow concluded his ruling by requiring Michigan to either provide out of state wine retailers with access to a Michigan permit to ship wine or allow wine shipments based on the out-of-state retailers home license.
Friday’s ruling means consumers will now have access to the hundreds of thousands of wines not carried in Michigan that they were forbidden to receive via shipments. For many years NAWR has pointed out that state bans on wine shipments by out-of-state retailers harm consumers as much as the retailers. Friday’s ruling is a victory for consumers.
“The ruling is also a victory for fair and free trade, said Tom Wark, executive director of NAWR. “Closing off markets to satisfy the protectionist demands of a small group of well-heeled wholesaler middlemen and anti-competitive local retailers creates an inefficient, distorted marketplace.”
NAWR looks forward to working with the Michigan legislature to craft a new retailer wine shipping bill that creates and fair and well-regulated marketplace for consumers and retailers throughout the United States.
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