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7th Circuit upholds Indiana law on wine shipping

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an Indiana statute that prevents alcohol retailers from shipping their products to consumers by using a motor carrier such as UPS, and the state has the authority to regulate those shipments through the 21st Amendment.

In a 36-page opinion issued Tuesday in Lebamoff Enterprises v. Alex Hurley, in his official capacity as chairman of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, No. 11-1362, a three-judge panel affirmed a ruling by U.S. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in Indianapolis. The District judge had granted judgment for the state defendants and against a northeastern Indiana wine retailer challenging the state statute.

Filed by Cap N’Cork, a company that owns retail liquor stores in the Fort Wayne area, and joined by two Indianapolis wine consumers, the suit challenged the constitutionality of Indiana Code 7.1-3-15-3(d) that forbids delivery of wine, liquor and beer by anyone other than the seller of the wine or an employee . The plaintiffs argued the state law is preempted by federal statute regulating motor carriers and also contended that it restricts intrastate commerce and goes against their 21st Amendment right to regulate alcohol sales.

The majority judges found that Cap N’ Cork’s federal preemption argument fails because the statute isn’t attempting to regulate motor carriers. The judges also applied a 1970 ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States, Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc., 397 U.S. 137, 142 (1970), to balance the circumstances at issue in the case between the statute and how caselaw interacts with the 21st Amendment.

“The case comes down to a complaint that state law is preventing Cap N’ Cork from enlarging its sales area to encompass parts of Indiana remote from Fort Wayne,” Judge Richard Posner wrote in the opinion, joined by Judge Diane Sykes. “If true that is an effect on intrastate commerce, not interstate commerce. No effect on interstate commerce has been shown … The absence of even an incidental effect on interstate commerce excuses us from having to wrestle with the continued applicability of the Pike standard to state laws that while they discriminate incidentally against interstate commerce are at the same time within the Twenty-First Amendment’s gravitational field.”

U.S. Judge David Hamilton issued a separate lengthy opinion that concurred in judgment, but reached the conclusion based on a different approach than his colleagues. He found that the Pike balancing test is intrusive and shouldn’t be applied, and that the 21st Amendment trumps these balancing tests when looking at state powers to regulate alcohol transportation and importation.

 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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