Wine FreedomSunday, October 19, 2008
If you live in Michigan, you can’t buy wine from out-of-state.
The state has prohibited out-of-state retailers from shipping wine straight to Michigan consumers – unless the retailers have a location in Michigan and are a part of a three-tier regulatory system. But a federal judge in Detroit earlier this month declared Michigan’s law unconstitutional for discriminating against out-of-state retailers.
The judge used the Interstate Commerce Clause, of all things. “The state of Michigan may continue to collect any tax due on the sale of wine and may continue to require licenses and permits for direct interstate sales and deliveries, so long as the provisions to not discriminate against out-of-state wine retailers,” Hood said in the order. An editorial from the Grand Rapids Press reads:
The court ruling overturns a law banning out-of-state wine retailers from shipping direct to in-state consumers — unless the retailers have a location in Michigan and are part of the structure that includes beverage manufacturers and wholesale distributors. The judge said requiring a business to open a bricks-and-mortar location in Michigan violates the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits states from discriminating against interstate trade.
Michigan has been one of those states where you cannot go online (for example, to www.southernwines.com), order wine, and have it shipped to you. This is because your ability to freely transact with others and buy their products is not in the best interests of competitors who want you to be forced to buy their products so that they can earn the profit, even if you don’t desire their service or product. Groups that have an interest in having you buy Michigan’s wines have thrown tons of money and lobbying power at keeping these anti-consumer, anti-human laws binding your personal choices. The excuse always given as to why these laws are needed is that without them it will be too easy for minors to get alcohol and it will be impossible for the state to collect its taxes. Understanding teenage time preferences (I want it now) and tastes (uh, wine?), surely we’re not concerned about teens going online and ordering wine. And of course, let us not forget … it is all to protect the consumers and children!
“This disturbing court decision weakens time-tested, constitutionally protected safeguards that aim to protect Michigan consumers and children,” said Mike Lashbrook, president of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, one of the state’s most powerful lobbying groups.
Thus this tyrannical tactic that restricts my choice as a consumer is in my best interest! This comes from a guy who lobbies for his clients’ interests (the wholesalers are trying to grab market share) and against the personal freedom of consumers who are stifled by special interests who buy off the politicians and courts in order to keep this appalling law intact. In the spirit of never giving up your stranglehold, the wholesalers and the state attorney general have asked for a stay on the decision while appeals are pending. Judge Hood granted a 30-day stay.
I suspect that if you look at the details of attorney general Mike Cox’s campaign coffers, you’ll see some sizable donations from the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association and others who have an interest in keeping Michigan wine consumers from exercising their absolute right to freely transact with the business of their choice.