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Cold beer lawsuit fails in federal court

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Hoosiers will still have to go to their local liquor store to buy a cold one.

A challenge to state law prohibiting convenience, grocery and drug stores from selling cold beer failed Monday when the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana denied the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and granted the state’s motion for summary judgment.

Convenience stores filed a lawsuit in 2013, arguing Indiana’s restrictions on who could sell beer cold violated their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. In Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association et al. v. Alex Huskey, Chairman of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, 1:13-CV-000784, the retailers charged that regulating the sale of beer based on temperature is unfair and does not prevent minors from illegally purchasing alcoholic beverages.

However, Chief Judge Richard Young rejected the IPCA’s arguments.

He dismissed the plaintiff’s contention that the state statute violated the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution because it was vague and not clear as to what conduct was being prohibited. Young pointed to the low number of citations from the Indiana State Excise Police as demonstrating the stores understand they cannot place beer in their coolers.

In disallowing the equal protection claims, Young found the state has a legitimate interest in limiting the sale of alcohol.

 “Restricting the sale of cold beer to certain types of businesses and restricting the sale of cold beer only to businesses that have more restrictions placed on them is a classic example of legislative line-drawing,” Young wrote in his June 16 order. “Indiana’s legislative classifications, which serve to limit the outlets for immediately consumable cold beer, is rationally related to the legitimate goals of Indiana’s alcoholic beverage laws; opening this market to others without restriction is not.”

Both sides presented their case to the judge Feb. 20 and 21.

After the ruling, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the proper venue for settling this issue was the Statehouse.

“The statute we successfully defended reflects the current decision of the people’s elected representatives in the Legislature,” Zoeller said. “The subject has been debated for many years but the appropriate forum for those who disagree with the state law to advocate for policy changes is in the state Legislature not the courts.”

The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association vowed to continue pushing against the state’s law but did not specify whether it would appeal Young’s order or mount another effort to get the Legislature to change the law.  

“Our members and Hoosiers are disappointed that the court did not rule to end an irrational, discriminatory and outdated law,” said Scot Imus, IPCA executive director. “There is wide support to modernize Indiana’s alcohol laws, and we will continue to fight for fairness in the marketplace.”



 


 

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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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