Chickens Coming Home to Roost in Indiana’s Wine Industry
I really can’t muster much sympathy for Indiana beer distributor Monarch Beverage who just lost a lawsuit in which they claimed Indiana’s law that prohibits beer distributors from supplying both beer and liquor violates the Constitution. After all these are the folks who have steadfastly defended the nonsensical Three Tier System of alcohol sales.
But what is funny (interesting?) about the latest ruling in this case is the way the judge sympathizes with Monarch while ruling against them:
The Indianapolis Business Journal describes the judges sympathetic rejection of Monarch’s claims this way:
“On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker ruled against Monarch’s claim. Indiana’s codes regarding alcohol distribution might not appear rational to all parties, Barker wrote in her ruling, but that doesn’t mean they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
This is hardly the first time that a judge looked at the way a state’s alcohol beverage system is designed, noted the irrationality of the system, but ruled to support it because, well, because 21st Amendment. And it won’t be the last.
In Monarch’s suit it was argued that Indiana’s prohibition against a wholesaler’s possession of both a beer and liquor wholesale permit was unfair and wasn’t rationally related to a legitimate government interest. To which the Judge Barker replied: “Ours is not to determine the best way to regulate an industry or to judge the wisdom or logic of legislative choices. Monarch’s arguments, while perhaps reflecting sound legislative policy, do not represent sound judicial analysis.”
Here is the problem with the alcohol distribution system in most states: It makes very little policy sense. And in almost ever case it doesn’t advance anything like a legitimate interest of the state.
But back to my lack of sympathy for Monarch. Representatives of the wholesale tier across the country (Including Monarch in Indiana) have consistently defended the indefensible: No producer to retailer sales. No out-of-state wineries or retailers selling direct to the consumer. The retention of absurdly stupid tied house laws. So, when Monarch moans and cries about the lack of any rational reason for Indiana’s alcohol laws….perhaps they should examine their own defense of the indefensible.
And finally, because I love a good bit of irony, I’ll leave my readers with this quote from Monarch’s initial legal brief in which they bitch and moan about stupid laws:
“The General Assembly has never provided an official explanation for why it chose to prohibit beer wholesalers from holding a liquor permit,” Monarch argues in its suit. “The available evidence, however, suggests that this restriction was enacted to further a post-Prohibition patronage system that operated to the benefit of state and local politicians.”