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Wine Spectator: U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Hear Major Wine Shipping Case

October 13, 2021

Should consumers have the right to buy wine from retailers in other states? The U.S. Supreme Court announced yesterday that it won’t decide—at least not in this session—declining to hear Sarasota Wine Market v. Schmitt. A Supreme Court decision on the case, which challenged Missouri’s law prohibiting out-of-state wine retailers from shipping orders to consumers in Missouri, could have potentially reshaped the U.S. wine sales landscape.

This is one of several recent challenges to laws prohibiting out-of-state retailer direct shipping. In this particular case, a Florida wine store, Sarasota Wine Market, and Missouri consumers sought to overturn Missouri’s law as unconstitutional, in violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which forbids states from discriminating against or interfering with interstate commerce.

This past February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled against the plaintiffs, determining that Missouri’s out-of-state direct-shipping ban was protected under the 21st Amendment. (The Supreme Court has held that states’ rights granted by the 21st Amendment can preempt the Commerce Clause, for laws enacted to discourage excessive drinking or create an orderly alcohol market.) Attorneys Alex Tanford and Robert Epstein, who previously worked on Sarasota in the 6th and 8th circuits (and were also lawyers on the landmark Granholm v. Heald decision in 2005), appealed the 8th Circuit decision, filing a petition for writ of certiorari (cert) in June with the Supreme Court. Wine Spectator has the full story.—Collin Dreizen

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