Minnesotans Get Wine Ads
The state of Minnesota has long been the winner of the "most creative way to protect wine wholesalers and screw consumers" award. With a recent judicial ruling the state can no longer claim that title.
In 1998 Minnesota enacted regulations that prohibited any winery in the country from advertising to Minnesotans that their wine was available direct from the winery and prohibiting Minnesotans from ordering wine via the Internet. Monday those regulations were determined to be unconstitutional.
The ruling states quite straightforwardly that Minnesota wineries:
"have the right under the First and Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to engage in truthful, non-misleading advertising and solicitation of sales and shipments of wine directed to Minnesotan consumers, as well as to accept Minnesotan consumers’ orders for direct sales and shipments of wine via the Internet"
It was further recognized that:
"wineries domiciled in other states enjoy the same First and Fourteenth Amendment rights as wineries
domiciled in the State of Minnesota"
The Minnesota Institute of Justice was responsible for bring the case against the state. The national chapter of the Institute for Justice was instrumental in bring last year’s victory for wine consumers in the Granholm V. Heald Supreme Court.
"This case is all about the First Amendment. It’s not about shipping,"
said Lee McGrath, who leads the Institute for Justice’s Minnesota
chapter. He said the group challenges public laws that "go beyond
health and safety, and act as barriers to reduce competition."
Nearly every time these protectionist, anti-consumer, pro-wholesaler laws are challenged in court they are struck down. We are slowly seeing a nice base of case law being established that delivers the message: protectionist laws meant to shield wine local business from competition will not stand.
There is a long way to go before America’s wineries and wine consumers have full rights to engage in the safe and legal interstate commerce without the threat of being hauled off to jail so that wholesalers can remain in charge of a state-mandated monopoly. But we are getting closer.