You’ve Got eWine – Court Says You Can Buy Wine on the Internet

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In case you thought it was bad that teenagers can buy tobacco over the Internet, a court – make that the Supreme Court – has just ruled that you can buy alcohol, specifically wine, over the Internet, and that individual states shall not pass laws which forbid buying wine over the Internet from out-of-state wineries.

At issue were the laws of New York and Michigan, both of which banned the purchase of wine from out-of-state wine sellers which ship directly to the consumer (which is how Internet wine sellers work), but which did not similarly ban wineries selling directly to consumers if the winery were in the same state (i.e. a person in New York could buy directly from a New York winery, but not from a winery in any other state).

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You’ve Got eWine – Court Says You Can Buy Wine on the Internet

It isn’t just New York and Michigan laws which will be affected, however. As many as twenty-two other states have similar laws, all of which will have to be revised to either allow their citizens to purchase wine directly from out-of-state wineries, or to forbid direct-to-consumer wine sales in-state as well as out. In all, the states affected by this ruling include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont.


 

What Aunty wants to know however is how the wineries are going to make sure that they aren’t shipping alcohol to minors. Hopefully they will be at least as diligent as are those who maintain online tobacco shops and online pharmacies …. oh.. wait…

Clint Bolick, the attorney for the Institute for Justice, which represented the interest of local wineries in the case, said “This is the best day for wine lovers since the invention of the corkscrew.”

So remember, folks, don’t drink and drive. And now, thanks to the Supremes, it just became a little easier.

  
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You’ve Got eWine – Court Says You Can Buy Wine on the Internet

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8 Replies to “You’ve Got eWine – Court Says You Can Buy Wine on the Internet”

  1. The United States Supreme Court rules on cases that are based on the Constitution of the United States of America. Alex makes several good points in his above answer to Aunty Spam. Alex’s points are based on law and logic, Aunty Spam’s points are based on irrational stupidity. It is not the job of the United States Supreme Court to make sure that minor’s do not buy alcohol. This is the United States of America, we are not a fascist country. It is the job of the United States Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, regardless of what social issues are at play in our society. The Constitution of the United States of America does not mention the word “society” one time. The theme of “individual freedom” is mentioned over and over in the Constitution of the United States of America. The reason the framers of our constitution formed our unique Democracy and the United States of America was so we could escape persicution from the King of England. At the cornerstone of our Democracy is our individual rights and freedoms, regardless of what some in “society” think those rights and freedoms should, or should not be. The ruling allowing wine to be sold to other states will most likely effect all goods that are sold over the internet or across state lines, including tobbacco. The issue was not what product was being sold, the issue was is it constitutional for states to limit and restrict trade to other states? The United States Supreme Court said in their ruling that it is illegal, and unconstitutional for states to restrict trade to their own state and not allow products to be sold to other states.

  2. As a former resident of California, and a current resident of New Mexico, both of which allow inter-state shipment of wine, I can say from experience that all of my shipments require an adult signature at delivery. Wine is never left at the doorstep. And as a former teenager (many years ago), and a parent, I have yet to find an under-age drinker who’s drink of choice is a good cabernet or Pinot Noir. Also most underage drinkers aren’t willing or able to spend $25 + for a bottle of wine. Oh, and Gallo doesn’t ship direct to consumers!

  3. A state could compel sellers of all controlled items to deliver via an intermediary that will require a picture id and signature before delivery.
    I hate when topics get … well off the topic. Perhaps this should be on a new page.
    This page was obviously too show how the Courts need to remind states that federal law supersedes state.

  4. Dear Aunty:
    Your comment on how the various states are going to prove that they are not shipping to minors, begets the question, how are they now proving that those orders in intra-state commerce, are not being shipped to minors?
    It would seem, that those states that were banning inter-state shipments of wine, were only trying to protect the wine makers in their own backyard from any out of state competition. This is against federal law!
    Yes, I buy wine from a California vintner, by using his 800 number or going to their website. I, also, have been to the actual winery, that is in Santa Barbara county. Again, how does the winery know if I am the person that places the order, is the same person whose name is on the credit card, when I call or use the website?

  5. Dear Alexander,

    You wrote: “You have one very significant error in your post. The Supreme Court ruled that it was discriminatory and illegal restraint of trade to allow in-state wineries to ship while restricting out-of-state wineries. States certainly can pass laws forbidding the buying of wine over the Internet (and via mail order) from out-of-state wineries so long as they do the same for in-state wineries.”

    Remember, reading comprehension is your friend (hmmm, on second thought, apparently not) – you either overlooked, or chose to ignore for the sake of argument, where Aunty wrote:

    “…but which did not similarly ban wineries selling directly to consumers if the winery were in the same state.”

    You also wrote: “Your statement that the 24 indicated states were affected by this ruling also is partly inaccurate. All 50 states are affected by the ruling; it’s just that those 24 have banned interstate shipment.”

    On the contrary. All fifty states must follow the law, but only those on which the law wreaks change are effected. The law has no effect on those states which are already not discriminating between in and out-of-state purchases – it portends no change whatsoever. An effect is something which follows a cause – the closest you could get to making your statement accurate is to say that the “effect” on those states which already followed practices with which the new state of the law is consistent is to cause them to not have to do anything differently – and that’s really a stretch.

    Finally, you write: “Your concern about shipment to minors is a canard. The Court’s majority opinion, authored by Justice Kennedy, stated, “The States provide little evidence that the purchase of wine over the Internet by minors is a problem. Indeed, there is some evidence to the contrary. A recent study by the staff of the FTC found that the 26 states currently allowing direct shipments report no problems with minors’ increased access to wine.”

    My dear boy, if you honestly believe that minors are not acquiring alcohol over the Internet, and will not do so in increased numbers as more wine merchants start shipping from online orders, and if you genuinely base that on an *absence* of reports of the phenomena, then, well, that explains quite a bit about your general outlook and the level to which you are in touch with reality.

    Alexander, my dear boy, if you were one of my law students, you would fail. And not because you attempted to show Aunty up (quite the contrary, Aunty’s law students are encouraged to put forth *well founded* arguments). Aunty’s advice is that you stop playing armchair lawyer and go back to whatever it is at which you are good. If, on the other hand, you are a lawyer, well, let’s just hope that you work in the transactional side and don’t actually represent clients.

    Kissy kissy,

    Aunty Spam

  6. The ruling wouldn’t stop states from imposing some requirement to verify purchasers age in the way the state wants it verified.

  7. You have one very significant error in your post. The Supreme Court ruled that it was discriminatory and illegal restraint of trade to allow in-state wineries to ship while restricting out-of-state wineries. States certainly can pass laws forbidding the buying of wine over the Internet (and via mail order) from out-of-state wineries so long as they do the same for in-state wineries.

    Your statement that the 24 indicated states were affected by this ruling also is partly inaccurate. All 50 states are affected by the ruling; it’s just that those 24 have banned interstate shipment.

    Your concern about shipment to minors is a canard. The Court’s majority opinion, authored by Justice Kennedy, stated, “The States provide little evidence that the purchase of wine over the Internet by minors is a problem. Indeed, there is some evidence to the contrary. A recent study by the staff of the FTC found that the 26 states currently allowing direct shipments report no problems with minors’ increased access to wine.”

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