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Grocery and convenience store liquor and wine sales prohibition upheld

Court said prohibition serves 'legitimate state interest'

By Stephen G. Amato
McBrayer

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a decision today that has dashed the hopes of many grocery and convenience stores across the commonwealth.

wine glassReversing an earlier decision of a lower court, the Court of Appeals upheld state laws which prohibit most groceries, gas stations and convenience stores from holding licenses to sell wine and liquor. In 2012, the federal District Court lifted the 76-year old ban, declaring it to be outdated and in violation of the equal protection clause.

Today’s ruling, in stark contrast, concluded that “…reasonably conceivable facts support the contention that grocery stores and gas stations pose a greater risk of exposing citizens to alcohol than other retailers.”

In addition, the Court of Appeals found the prohibition to serve a legitimate state interest, not in violation of the Equal Protection Clause, and not to interfere with the “liberty interest” of any business.

Stephen Amato’s administrative practice focuses extensively in the area of alcoholic beverage regulation, including licensing and enforcement issues.