Open Markets Institute: Open Markets Condemns Supreme Court Ruling Allowing Monopolists To Take Over Alcohol Markets

posted June 26, 2019

Washington, DC — Open Markets strongly condemns the decision by the Supreme Court today in Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas. The ruling guts the 21st Amendment to the Constitution and empowers dominant retailers, such as Amazon, to take over America’s markets for beer, wine, and spirits. Open Markets filed an amicus brief with the Court last November supporting the constitutional authority of individual states to regulate alcohol distribution and production under the 21st Amendment.

“This decision weakens the constitutional right of citizens to structure state alcohol markets for the safety and well-being of their communities,” said Open Markets Legal Director Sandeep Vaheesan. “It also is bad for anyone who cares about the quality and variety of beer, wine, and spirits, including the craft brew industry. The Supreme Court’s decision is a clear defeat for the public interest.”  

The decision is deeply anti-democratic. By ratifying the 21st amendment, the American people granted states the power to make rules governing the production, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages, after the failure of Prohibition. The Court’s decision further limits one of the clearest statements by the American people about how to structure not only markets but communities.

In its brief, Open Markets emphasized, “states have the authority to structure commerce in alcohol to advance a range of public aims” including the protection of public health and the maintenance of decentralized markets in the sale and production of alcohol. This ruling allows dominant retailers to advance their private interests at the expense of ordinary Americans. 

For additional Information:

Open Markets Amicus Brief in Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailer Association v. Byrd

The Intercept: The Monopolist in the House: Rep. David Trone’s Wine Company Seeks To Overturn a Constitutional Amendment

Harvard Business Review: Big Beer, A Moral Market, and Innovation

Washington Monthly: Last Call