Victory for out-of-state wine shippers in Ohio court ruling
The US National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR) has applauded the latest decision of a court of appeal in Ohio which has sent a “discriminatory” Ohio law, which bars Ohio residents from receiving wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers, back to the lower courts.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed an earlier Ohio Federal District Court ruling which effectively prevented Ohio residents from receiving wine shipments from out-of-state wine retailers.
The NAWR’s president David Parker described the ban as “especially pernicious” as only out-of-state retailers were prohibited from serving consumers in Ohio via direct shipments.
It refers to a court case in which Illinois wine retailer House of Glunz and wine lover Kenneth Miller challenged whether Ohio’s liquor laws were constitutional in preventing out-of-state wine retailers from shipping wine directly to Ohio consumers.
In sending back the case to the lower courts in Ohio, the ruling requires that “concrete evidence” be presented to back up the defendants argument that allowing out-of-state wine retailer shipments substantively damages the health and safety of Ohio residents “in a way that allowing shipping from in-state wine retailers and out of state wineries does not”, the NAWR said.
It argued that several states across the US continued to “unfairly burden their wine-drinking residents and restrict interstate commerce through their protectionist wine shipping laws that allow in-state retailers to ship to their residents but bar out-of-state wine retailers from doing the same”
It said it was “dedicated to bringing to light the protectionist effect of Ohio’s law, as well as the positive practical impact of retailer direct shipping on the state government and the state’s consumers who are otherwise denied access to imported and high-quality wines available only from select retailers in the United States,” it said in a statement.
Defending the existing interpretation of the law was Ohio’s Attorney General Defendant Dave Yost and Andy Wilson, director of Ohio Department of Public Safety, along with the Wholesale Beer & Wine Association of Ohio.
Yost previously cracked down on out-of-state wine and liquor sellers in 2020, with an injunction in federal court to compel out of state companies who delivered to Ohio residents to stop, despite the US constitution including a “dormant commerce clause,” which is designed to prevent states from showing businesses within their borders preferential treatment.
At the time, he argued that out-of-state wine and liquor companies potentially avoided millions of dollars a year in alcohol taxes.