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Supreme Court Denies Total Wine’s Appeal In Connecticut Minimum Pricing Case

April 7, 2020

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Total Wine & More a big win when it struck down Tennessee’s residency requirement for beverage alcohol licensing. But the Court has declined to take up Total Wine’s latest challenge to state alcohol laws, in which the retailer has taken aim at Connecticut’s minimum pricing rules.

Without offering an explanation, the Supreme Court said it would let stand last year’s Second Circuit court ruling in favor of Connecticut’s minimum pricing system, which said the state regulations are not preempted by federal anti-trust laws. Under Connecticut’s law, drinks wholesalers must post their prices in advance so that competing wholesalers can match them, hold those prices for a month, and may not offer volume discounts to retailers. This provision prevents larger businesses, like Total Wine & More, from using their size and scale to the advantage of the company and consumers, according to the retailer.

Earlier this year, Southern Glazer’s filed an amicus brief supporting Total Wine’s bid. In the brief, Southern said it was most concerned with the post-and-hold requirement, because it operates in states like New York, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Idaho, which have enacted similar requirements. The wholesaler asserted that federal antitrust laws should allow it “the opportunity to compete in markets nationwide, including by offering business efficiencies and economies of scale, competitive pricing, and other strategies to be responsive to consumer demand.”—Daniel Marsteller

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