Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Texas size step forward

In a 58-page decision, a Texas judge has ruled that retailers have the same protection from discrimination with regard to consumer-direct shipping that wineries do. Judge Sidney Fitzwater of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that laws precluding out-of-state wine retailers from selling and shipping wine to Texas consumers are unconstitutional. In an addition however, the judge wrote that the State of Texas has the option to force out-of-state-retailers to purchase wine from Texas wholesalers. "Texas can constitutionally require that wine sold and shipped to Texas consumers be purchased from a Texas licensed wholesaler," Fitzwater declared.

"It's a sweeping decision rejecting the argument that Granholm (the 2005 Supreme Court Ruling on consumer-direct wine shipping) does not apply to retailers," Specialty Wine Retailers Association Executive Director Tom Wark said. "Retailers may not be discriminated against if a state is going to give its own in-state retailers the right to ship."

Sounds like a step in the right direction [toward country wide consumer choice] however I'm not sure how the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is going to deal with new requirements that could create a distribution system where a Texas retailer could buy from wholesalers in several states. I'll bet there is continued legal activity on this issue in the months and years to come.

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