Tyranny as a Peril of Pandemic—The California ABC Power Grab

Due Process: It’s the concept and rule that when the state or its agencies or representatives takes legal action against a person or organization, it is required to follow the law in doing so, which includes providing an avenue for the accused to dispute the charges against them. It’s a pretty important concept and in America represents the difference between tyranny and rule by the people.

So why is the California Alcohol Beverage Commission in the process of suspending due process and grabbing power under cover of the COVID-19 pandemic to shut down any alcohol business for no other reason than it wants to? And why are they proposing that this power be granted to the agencies indefinitely?

These are questions generated by the announcement by the California ABC on May 11 that it proposes, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to strip California businesses of their due process rights when faced with accusations of violations of the alcohol beverage code.

It’s a power grab by the California ABC attempted under cover of the COVID-19 emergency.

You can read the details in this article written by Hinman & Carmichael’s John Hinman in The Booze Rules blog.

What seems to be the bottom line driving the California ABC’s attempt at stripping businesses of their due process rights is their feeling of being burdened by businesses exercising those rights and the time it takes to put up with businesses defending themselves. I sympathize. Who wouldn’t want the ability to do as they want, unrestrained by the complications of the rule of law?

At this point numerous state and national trade associations such as The Wine Institute, Family Winemakers of California, the Music and Cultural Association and the National Association of Wine Retailers, are submitting comments to the California Office of Administrative Law, which will evaluate the ABC’s request for tyrannical rule over California wineries, restaurants, retailers, distillers, brewers and all others that sell alcohol in one way or another.

The perils of pandemic are obvious. We watch from our homes as Americans die at the hands of the unseen virus. The related peril is that under cover of the health and safety emergency caused by the CoronaVirus, important rights are stolen away by those who see an opportunity to enhance their power with an excuse to be working to preserve the health and safety of us all.


9 Responses

  1. Jim Ruxin - May 19, 2020

    Sounds unfair and likely not Constitutional. Newsom will never allow it.

    Fortunately you did not sound too right wingnutty in warning of overreach because of the crisis, like to many Trump fans, including those with AR-15s, dogs and confederate flags who turned out to keep a tattoo parlor open against a local edict.

  2. Tom Wark - May 19, 2020


    How can we call this America if you can’t lock and load a gun, while getting a tattoo of the confederate flag on your back?


  3. Jim Ruxin - May 19, 2020

    I have no problem with responsible gun ownership or tattoos. But those people acted in defiance of a local order and formed a perimeter around the shop to keep the police away.

    This was not civil disobedience but vigilantis acting out their own macho delusions.

    Also if the Founding Fathers could imagine AR-15s they would have banned them.

    And the confederate flag stands for so many horrible things…it is just a failed nationalistic symbol for grandness that never was.

    I think the ABC ruling is awful and would hire a ton of lawyers instead of AR-15 bearing goons to defend the due process clause. So would all the Supreme Court Justices, as jaundiced as some of them are.

  4. Tom Wark - May 19, 2020

    Jim, I think you are right. The founders would have banned the AR 15….but probably only after forts pointing them at the British.

  5. Jim Ruxin - May 19, 2020

    They would have if they could have! No doubt about it. But arming their own people with such a destructive weapon would have given them pause. My wife supports allowing every person to own muskets.

    This is just a way of looking at Scalia’s phony idea of “originalism.” Legal scholars of all stripes believe he made it up to suit his philosophy of jurispridence.

    I don’t dream of taking away people’s private guns, even if I choose not to own one. But I would never vote AGAINST strong gun registration laws, as do many of the younger NRA members.
    Fewer guns in circulation is a good thing, but guns in the hands of responsible people is not a threat. Too bad so many of them get in the way of protecting the rest of us from the loonies.

    We are off topic. My blood boils too when a bureaucracy over reaches, so I support your advocacy. Edicts like that give responsible government oversight a bad name and empowers the evil LIbertarian lurking in the selfish soul of all of us.

  6. Richard - May 20, 2020

    Hey… go easy on dogs… if they could vote, the Stable Genius wouldn’t have been elected! If they were there w/their people, they were likely embarrassed or brainwashed…

  7. Jim Ruxin - May 20, 2020

    Richard…that is what upsets me so much, as a dog lover. Those amazing four legged critters can be poisoned by their two legged animal masters.

  8. Gabriel Froymovich - May 20, 2020

    Thanks for posting this, Tom. And thanks to our industry’s “regulatory first responders” for fighting this.

    To be honest, I am deeply confused as to why we even need an ABC. We already have TTB on a federal level. Actual crimes are regulated by actual law enforcement. And the revenue collection “services” provided by ABC could easily be performed by the Franchise Tax Bureau. When you give an agency a specific mandate, they excel at showing the supposed need for it (e.g. cancelling large community events due to a couple of Twitter posts.) Sometimes this can be a good thing – like with the CDC, perhaps, right now – in this case, though, the State of California has created a golem that has turned on its own people.

  9. Jim Ruxin - May 20, 2020

    I hope others can chime in on this…but a state level ABC makes it easier to enforce the antiquated three tier system, and harder for the feds to interfere. This is a speculation, but others more knowledgable are invited to educate the rest of us.

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