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Supreme Court Declines To Address Walmart’s Bid To Sell Spirits In Texas

November 24, 2020

Walmart has hit another stumbling block in its mission to sell spirits in the Lone Star state. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to take on Walmart’s challenge to a Texas liquor law which prevents liquor sales by publicly owned companies. The rejection, which came without comment from the high court, sends the retail giant back to federal trial court.

Walmart alleges that 98% of Texas liquor retailers are owned by Texans and that the effect of the law violates the U.S. Constitution and the dormant commerce clause. For its part, Texas consistently argues that the law is aimed at preventing overconsumption of spirits, not economic protectionism for Texans.

Walmart has challenged the Texas law for years, occasionally making strides, but ultimately failing to persuade higher courts that the law is unconstitutional. In 2018, the company scored a victory when a district judge ruled against the law. However, on appeal, the 5th Circuit rejected the district judge’s findings and the law remained in effect. While it’s too soon to say whether this will be Walmart’s Alamo in the long-running case, the retailer will have to convince the federal trial court that the intent of the law is discriminatory in order to prevail.—Shane English

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