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Court Justices May Like Internet Wine

Wednesday, 08 December 2004 12:00 AM

Opponents of the laws claim that they are a form of protectionism, allowing states to discriminate against their sister states in order to protect their own wine industries - a clear violation of the Constitution which prohibits states from discrimination in favor of their own products.

Attorneys for New York and Michigan argued that provisions of the 21st Amendment which abolished federal prohibition would allow their states to enact the laws against importation of wine.

"Mere protectionism is permitted" by the amendment that repealed Prohibition, Solicitor General Thomas L. Casey of Michigan said.

"This case goes to the very core of the 21st Amendment," Solicitor General Caitlin J. Halligan of New York argued.

"It also goes to the very core of the Commerce Clause," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy responded. According to the Times, that clause, which empowers Congress to regulate interstate commerce, has been interpreted since early in the country's history to include the implication that states may not, on their own minus Congressional authorization, discriminate against one another.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer added that in the 21st Amendment he found "not a word in any brief that I saw of any intent to get rid of the antidiscrimination principle."

Justice David H. Souter told Casey, Michigan's lawyer: "Your opponents argue that there are no clear countervailing interests here, so by process of elimination you get down to nothing but protectionism. What's your answer?"

The law really does enable the state to protect minors, Mr. Casey replied.

"You say that, but how?" Justice Souter persisted.

Also indicating by their questions that their sympathies do not lie with the state bans were justices Stevens and O'Connor.

As a result, opponents of the state bans may be toasting each other with wine from out-of-state vineyards they ordered over the internet.

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Opponents of the laws claim that they are a form of protectionism, allowing states to discriminate against their sister states in order to protect their own wine industries - a clear violation of the Constitution which prohibits states from discrimination in favor of their...
Court,Justices,May,Like,Internet,Wine
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2004-00-08
Wednesday, 08 December 2004 12:00 AM
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