~In the state of Maine, in the United States of America, there is a law that requires tobacco delivery carriers to verify the age of the buyer.
~The New Hampshire Motor Transport Association does not like the law and has challenged it on a constitutional basis, claiming it violates the Commerce Clause found in Article 1, Sections 8 through 10 of the U.S. Constitution, concerning an individual state’s inability to hinder the flow of commerce across state borders.
~The case is named Rowe V. New Hampshire Motor Transport Association (Rowe is the Maine Attorney General).
~Ever on the lookout to maintain their position as the leader in paying for protection, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief supporting the state of Maine’s law.
~In its brief, WSWA says that “It is the states that have primary responsibility for combating underage drinking, as reflected in the Twenty-First Amendment (Section 2), congressional enactments, and prior decisions of this Court.”
~So what does underage drinking have to do with verify age for tobacco deliveries?
~WSWA filed the brief because the organization noticed that laws on the books in other states aimed at alcohol delivery are worded similarly to the Maine tobacco statute. WSWA hopes to chide the justices in their direction, and also have us believe that they want to save our children; sure, as much as I want to live in a dentist’s chair.
~If the Supreme Court finds that state laws like Maine’s are preempted by federal statutes, WSWA knows it is only a matter of time before they lose the benefit of state protection rackets regarding alcohol distribution and monopolistic-like control known as the “three tier system,” which is, from producer to warehouse/distributor to retailer.
~Under the three tier system, state laws generally mandate who gets to warehouse, distribute, and maintain a hold on our access to wine. The sole interest of WSWA is to maintain its membership in that position.
~A recent development in Indiana might make WSWA a little nervous.
~U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder trashed a law requiring Indiana residents to pay a visit to a winery to provide a written signature before being allowed to purchase wine and have it shipped; the law meant no telephone, Internet or mail ordering for adults of legal age.
~If someone living in Indiana wants a California wine shipped to him or her, the person has to first go to California and sign a document verifying age and requesting the shipment.
~As distributors, WSWA members are allowed, no given the mandate, to transport the wine from California to an Indiana retailer, so the law is a prohibition applied to a transaction between producers and consumers but not to the ordained, licensed distributors and retailers.
~The system seems like restraint of commerce and extortion combined.
~The judge ruled the law clearly “erects a trade barrier to most out-of-state wineries,” and that violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
~The Indiana arm of WSWA defends the law because—you guessed it—it prevents alcohol from being sold to minors.
Maybe we should change the WSWA initials to RUSE.
It would be good of WSWA to make sure that our kids are sober—it would be good of all of us to make sure of that.
Yet, I suspect that the money WSWA spends to pay politicians and lawyers so that its members are protected would go a long way to stop the production of cheap-drunk products, those high alcohol delivery systems that youngsters and people with the disease of alcoholism favor.
It’s interesting to note that those cheap products are are warehoused and distributed across the nation by WSWA members.
Yeah, sure, WSWA has the health and welfare of our children in mind.
~RUSE—excuse me, WSWA—defends the disregarding of the U.S. Constitution and its commerce laws by claiming its members are out to save our children when in fact, doing the former reaps profits for them and doing the latter wouldn’t bring a dime into their coffers.
~Which do you think is their real aim?
Copyright, Thomas Pellechia
September, 2007. All Rights Reserved.