Wine Consumers & The Supreme Court

On June 26, 2019 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the case of Tennessee Wine v. Thomas. Though not a case with consumer wine shipping directly at issue, the ruling had a critical impact on wine consumers.

The key holding of the ruling was this: states may not pass discriminatory laws impacting out-of-state wine stores for purely protectionist motives.

Since the 2005 Granholm v Heald Supreme Court ruling, states were barred from passing discriminatory laws against out-of-state wineries. States could not discriminate against out-of-state wineries, the Court said, by allowing their own in-state wineries to ship wine directly to consumers in their state but bar out-of-state wineries from shipping to those same consumers.

The Granholm ruling, however, was not interpreted by many lower courts to apply to wine stores also. As a result, since 2005 many states discriminated against out-of-state wine stores by barring them from shipping to their consumers, while allowing their in-state stores to ship to them.

That changed with the Tennessee Wine v Thomas Supreme Court ruling. and its followers helped bring this decision to fruition. WineFreedom submitted a “Friend of the Court” Amicus Brief in the Tennessee Wine case arguing that the court should do exactly what it did. It was the first crowd funded Supreme Court Friend of the Court brief in history.

There are roughly X states that, at the time of the Tennessee Wine ruling, that unconstitutionally discriminate against out-of-state wine stores and bar their consumers from accessing the wines they want. They include:

New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
Washington and other organizations will be working to change laws in these states to bring them into compliance with the Constitution and to bring greater access to wine for consumers. If you have not already signed up for Wine Freedom alerts, please do so now. Your voice will be most important as we work to bring wine freedom to the states.