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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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