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Tue December 7, 2004
U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Wine Case
By Alabama Public Radio
Washington, D.C. – A case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday could have a major impact on the regulation and sale of alcoholic beverages. Justices will hear arguments about whether states, including Alabama, can bar people from buying wine directly from out-of-state suppliers. The dispute pits regulators and wholesalers against out-of-state wineries that want to sell to consumers, mostly over the Internet or by phone. Wine is an almost $22 billion industry nationwide. The dispute centers on the 21st Amendment. That ended Prohibition, and it granted regulatory authority to the states. But the Constitution also implicitly prohibits states from passing laws that discriminate against out-of-state businesses. Lower courts have disagreed on the issue. And 24 states have laws that generally require outside wineries to sell their products through licensed wholesalers.