Uncorking Commerce

Posted on September 28, 2005
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Arizonans may soon be raising their glasses to more than 10,000 varieties of wine. Black Star Farms, a Michigan winery, and several East Valley residents have filed a federal court challenge to the constitutionality of Arizona's wine shipping regulations.  

The challenge comes in the wake of Granholm v. Heald, in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar programs in New York and Michigan. But Arizona still has not acted to repeal its unconstitutional laws.

With little exception, Arizona prohibits out-of-state wineries from shipping wine directly to Arizona consumers. Instead, wines must be sent through a state-controlled distribution system managed by a handful of distributors and retailers. The system serves little purpose beyond protecting the distributor and retail monopoly over wine sales. It also violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees free trade among the states.

Which wines to purchase should be a decision for consumers, not the state or state-regulated distributors. Striking down Arizona's law would let Arizonans order directly from out-of-state wineries, increasing consumer freedom and choice.

We can all toast to that.

Key Links:
- East Valley Tribune: "Lawsuit could ferment Ariz. wine industry"
-Goldwater Institute: Trading Grapes: The Case for Direct Wine Shipments in Arizona
-Goldwater Institute Amicus Brief: Granholm v. Heald
-U.S. Supreme Court: Granholm v. Heald, 125 S. Ct. 1885 (2005)

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