The Supreme Court, Wine-Regulation Case Focuses on Protectionism

Mega-retailer Total Wine & More made its case against Tennessee retail associations and laws as it desires to open stores within the state. Tennessee currently has a residency requirement for operators owning retail stores that mandate that they have lived in the state for at least 10 years.

Total’s attorneys challenged that notion, along with attorneys for Mary and Doug Ketchum, who moved to Tennessee as they were told the weather would be better for their mentally disabled child. Attorneys for both parties—Total and the Ketchums—made the case that this level of protectionism of in-state residents should not be constitutional. Total declined to comment for this story.

The Repeal of Prohibition 85 years ago gave individual states wide latitude to decide how wine and spirits are sold within their borders. The same standards are not applied to other comestibles and the current Supreme Court case focuses on if these restrictions are legitimate.

Legal experts say the basis for supporting the current status quo, of state protectionism in the sales of wine, is if members of a local community will best understand how alcohol should be sold responsibility. They also presume that retailers are more likely to be active in the local communities where their stores are. However, a Tennessee resident could live much further geographically from their store then someone over the border in North Carolina.

Read more of this Forbes article by Lisa B. Zimmerman by clicking here.

Photo: Shon Bruellman