Walmart loses Supreme Court spirits case in Texas

US retail giant Walmart has failed to persuade the US Supreme Court to let it sell spirits in Texas.

The United States Supreme Court, Washington DC

The decision, which came without comment, upholds a 1995 state law that prevents publicly owned companies – ie those from retailer based outside the state – from obtaining a licence to sell spirits. The retail giant argued that this was discriminatory.

The case will escalate to a federal trial court, in which Walmart will have to prove it is the victim of intentional discrimination by the state of Texas,

Bloomberg reported. However the retailer argues that it shouldn’t have to show intentional discrimination, arguing that with around 98% of liquor stores in the state are wholly owned by Texans, the exclusion of nearly all out-of-state prevents companies from competing with Texan-owned stores and violates the Constitution.

Currently beer and wine can be sold within the state.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was reported as arguing that the states approach had “served Texas well”, making alcohol less accessible in the state by preventing big companies from reducing prices and increasing the number of liquor retail outlets.

“It has consistently ranked among the states with the lowest per capita liquor consumption,” Bloomberg quoted Paxton as saying.

A distrcit judge struck down the Texas law as unconstitutional in 2018, but  the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals said Walmart had to make a stronger showing of discrimination.

Last year the US Supreme Court ruled that protectionist alcohol licensing laws in Tennessee were “unconstitutional” which was heralded as a move that could have wider implications for interstate wine sales across the country.

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