16 May 2005

Conservatives win, conservatives lose on wine issue

The United States Supreme Court issued a widely anticipated opinion today regarding state prohibitions on direct shipping of wine from out-of-state, ruling such laws unconstitutional. The Court held, as most expected, that the laws in New York and Michigan, which were challenged in the cases before the high court, violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Article I of the federal constitution defines the role of the U.S. Congress, and Section 8 of Article I establishes powers vested to the congress. The provision in section 8, which is applicable to the wine case, states, "[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes[.]" The court's opinion appears to strike down the Florida law that prohibits shipments of wine from outside of Florida.

Today's decision was a huge win for vineyards that wish to cut out the middleman and get their products directly to consumers. The big losers are the industry lobbying groups, like Southern Wine and Spirits, who represent liquor retailers and fought to keep the protectionist laws because they helped local wine distributors at the expense of wine connoisseurs.

The ruling causes mixed reactions among Republicans. Traditional Republicans, who actually believe in less government, celebrate the ruling. The most vocal on this issue is Justin Sayfie, a GOP activist in Broward County who hosts the conservative website Sayfie Review. On the flip side, the religious right, who has gained greater control of the GOP over the last decade, supported the archaic law, because of their general opposition to drinking alcohol and other enjoyable activities. (Think of John Lithgow's character in Footloose.) The differing views within the GOP, which are evident in the wine issue, can best be described by labeling the two competing camps: Reagan Republicans versus Bush Republicans - two very different ideologies. (Of course like everything else, Democrats have no real position on the wine issue.)

Republicans may disagree over the merits of today's decision, but the Supreme Court has just issued a decision that made ordering wine from out-of-state the law of the land. So next time you feel like a good California chardonnay, go online and order it. The religious right may not like it, but now they have no way of stopping you. All they can do is complain, or shall I say ... whine.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can the state charge tax on wine ordered over the internet?

8:45:00 PM  
Blogger Billy Pancake said...

I once had someone at the post office trick me into telling them I was shipping wine over a state border. She gave me one of those "if these are wine bottles, they're not going to make it in this box." And, of course, i was sure the winery would not give me a subpar box and told the woman. Well, she had me. "now i know you have wine in here and I can't ship it." wow.

Mr. politiX, please come visit my Florida news site at theorangegrove.blogspot.com. I'm trying to squeeze myself into a nitch here & would love your critique. Thanks.

10:55:00 PM  

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