The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal in Wine Country Gift Baskets vs. Steen, a follow-on case to Granholm vs. Heald, this time deciding whether states can bar out-of-state retailers from delivering in a state, while allowing in-state retailers to continue their delivery services. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled that the 21st Amendment gave states the power to require retailers to operate from within a state; the Gift Basket folk argued that retailers should be treated similarly under a state’s laws regardless of where they are located.
The Supremes declined to intervene, so the case law on this tiny gray area is now clear. The world will continue to operate as it has been operating since the repeal of Prohibition.
I wrote about the case here. In a freakish occurrence not likely to be soon repeated, my prediction of the outcome of this case was correct: proponents of striking down the Texas law in question did “get creamed,” at least in the sense that the Supremes tossed them out without listening to what they had to say. (Which is too bad. I hear that Justice Clarence Thomas had a lot of questions he wanted to ask.) I’m not used to being right. It has never happened before and I have no idea how to act.
The comments on that posting are a better encapsulation of the issues at hand than the posting itself. Wine industry mouthpiece Tom Wark and I square-off in a death match, he articulating his belief that allowing discrimination of this sort is the greatest injustice ever and me saying it’s really no big deal. That seems to be the recurring argument between Mr. Wark and me — he sees big implications, I don’t.
I enjoy our little arguments even if it seems, at times, as if he doesn’t understand why a loving God would inflict upon him a rank amateur who compensates for his ignorance by being tenacious and long-winded.
Of course, a loving God wouldn’t do that. The problem is, I wasn’t dispatched by the forgiving, New Testament God. I’m a tool of the vengeful, Old Testament God, my very presence evidence that Wark must have done something really, really bad earlier in his life. If he hadn’t, I’d be blogging about knitting or something.
Anyway, Wark’s blog doesn’t have anything up yet on this decision, but you know he’s tap-tap-tapping at his keyboard, crafting his response. I’ll link to it when it comes out. I’m sure it will be interesting.
UPDATE: The Specialty Wine Retailers Association has issued a statement. They vow to fight on.
“Congress has never in its more than 220 years stripped American wine retailers of their Commerce Clause protection against state-based discrimination and we plan to continue to make this case,” said Tom Wark, executive director of SWRA. “Unfortunately special interests looking for state-sanctioned protection from competition continue to press the idea that courts should assist in that effort to deny the reach of the U.S. Constitution.
“The real victims of this kind of law are the citizens of Texas who are denied access to the products they desire to purchase and denied the critical tax revenue that a well-regulated wine shipping market would generate. As long as consumers and business continue to be discriminated against, this issue will remain a critical one and likely to be reviewed again since the Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the case.”