Contacts: Jerry Brown
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202-371-9792 ext. 301
WSWA Applauds Ninth Circuit Decision Upholding States’ Rights and the Three-Tier System
April 15, 2010
Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) President and CEO Craig Wolf issued a statement applauding Tuesday’s decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding an Arizona law that allows wineries that produce below 20,000 gallons a year to ship directly to consumers and retailers and that requires face-to-face transactions for the direct shipment of wine by any winery, regardless of size.
“The Ninth Circuit opinion, like the recent Fifth Circuit opinion, recognizes that states should have the ability to craft legislation that reflects the concerns of that specific state and its citizenry. It is important that courts understand that the three-tier system was specifically designed to address critical state concerns regarding the distribution of alcohol to consumers. The adoption of the 21st Amendment reflected recognition by both Congress and the states that the difficult problem of regulating alcohol, a socially sensitive product that can be misused and thereby can give rise to numerous problems for local communities, justified delegating to the states maximum authority to develop solutions tailored to each state’s citizenry.
While we certainly are pleased with those important and persuasive decisions, the Ninth Circuit is now in conflict with the First Circuit on the issue of gallonage caps, and the state of Massachusetts has decided not to appeal an adverse First Circuit decision. Litigation that attempts to deregulate alcohol continues across the country, including the case recently filed by ABI in Illinois. WSWA continues to be deeply concerned with those efforts and has been at the forefront of the battles, filing legal briefs in every case that has gone up to the federal courts of appeal (including the Supreme Court) in order to educate those courts about the history of alcohol regulation in this country, the purpose and effectiveness of the three-tier system, the need for strong state control of the distribution of alcohol and the proper construction and application of the 21st Amendment. We are pleased that the Ninth Circuit found WSWA’s amicus brief, joined by the American Beverage Licensees and the Sazerac Company, to be helpful in its analysis.”