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Supreme Court Allows Direct Shipment of Wine

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the drink-up dept.

The Courts 448

jrrl writes "For a while now, ordering wine (of the alcoholic variety, not the almost 0.9 variety) online has been a somewhat dicey proposition in some states. But today, the Supreme Court overturned state laws that disallowed direct shipment of wine from out of state. Their reasoning is that the states' 'authority to regulate the sale of alcohol within their borders' under the 21st Amendment does not supersede 'the Constitution's ban on state discrimination against interstate commerce.' States could still disallow all direct shipments, but at least they have to be evenhanded now."

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448 comments

First Fire_Horse post (-1, Offtopic)

The_Fire_Horse (552422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550556)

yes it is, suckers!

Re:First Fire_Horse post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550850)

There are MEN AND WEMON looking for HEALING, and the SPRING is going to BREAK OUT! I promise YOU, it's going to BREAK OUT! Men and WEMON. Looking for HEALING. AND IT'S GOING TO BREAK OUT! A healing. For all people! Women, men, WEMON, MEN! There is a HEALING THAT IS GOING TO BREAK OUT! Do you believe? DO YOU BELIEVE?

fp!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550559)

fp!!!

Hmmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550561)

Microsoft are going to be rather annoyed.

Yeah, yeah, yeah... (5, Funny)

Chordonblue (585047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550566)

Anyone else glance at the title and think: What the hell would a state have to do with non-emulation?

Re:Yeah, yeah, yeah... (0, Redundant)

vought (160908) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550664)

No shit. It's software. You can just download it. Why make a big deal about shipping it?

Re:Yeah, yeah, yeah... (5, Funny)

ZosX (517789) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550719)

Didn't you get the memo?

WINE == Wine Is Not an Emulator.

Re:Yeah, yeah, yeah... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550834)

Yeah, that's why it's non-emulation. :)

yay (0, Troll)

Renraku (518261) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550570)

This is an important decision. It will affect the lives of millions. Its obviously more important than things like..say..not letting completely unrelated 'riders' along on bills for something like..you know..helping our troops to survive in a battlefield environment.

Re:yay (2, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550662)

Its obviously more important than things like..say..not letting completely unrelated 'riders' along on bills for something like..you know..helping our troops to survive in a battlefield environment.

Ah, the old "government can only do one thing at a time" and "the citizenry can only think about one thing at a time" argument. Regardless, this was in front of the Supreme Court because it was brought there by people who wanted to see it resolved. If you think you can make a lucid case for congress not welding multiple topics into single bills/acts... have fun! That will never happen without an amendment, and that won't happen because it would completely paralyze the legislative process. Many bills, by definition and out of practical necessity, address several, dozens, or hundreds of "issues" at once. Constitutional language that would split the hairs on what is or is not a separate (enough) issue would be nearly impossible.

How about just voting for people that will carry on in a way more to your liking? And how about pursuading more people to do the same? That beats the hell out of during the legislative process into an unworkable stream of micro-incremental bits and pieces.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550575)

fp

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550578)

w00t

Commerce Clause (4, Insightful)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550579)

The rationale for getting rid of this holdover from alcohol prohibition is the Commerce Clause and the discriminatory application of the laws. It is about time that the government allows me to make adult decisions for myself.

Michigan isn't satisfied and is proposing banning all over-the-net wine orders on the flimsy reasoning that kids will be able to buy booze without government control.

When you have a weak argument, tell them you are legislating "to save the children".

Re:Commerce Clause (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550607)

Children below the age of 35 should be prohibited from accessing sugar compounds yeast or water.

Re:Commerce Clause (4, Informative)

drmerope (771119) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550647)

Actually the result of this ruling is that states must ban all--regardless of origin--direct to consumer sales if they block them at all.

The supreme court merely ruled that states could not treat intra-state state sales differently from out of state sales.

The ruling preserves state control over this issue as long as the policy doesn't discriminate against out of state sellers.

see: http://www.professorbainbridge.com/2005/05/supreme _court_s.html [professorbainbridge.com]

Save the fuckin' children, for chirsts sake! (-1)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550711)

I can hear George Carlin yellin it.

Michigan isn't satisfied and is proposing banning all over-the-net wine orders on the flimsy reasoning that kids will be able to buy booze without government control.

When you have a weak argument, tell them you are legislating "to save the children".

LOL, this is a health issue. We don't want kids getting drunk and turning into alcoholics. Most banks and currency exchanges sell credit cards. All a kid needs to do is buy a credit card, they will sell them to anyone. Then they go on-line, and order wine. A few days later, they recieve a shipment at their front door. Find some house where the parents work late, and can collect the wine and go drinking.

I know some states have laws that require checking an ID when dropping off alcohol, but most post office employees are not bartenders, they don't care. They just drop the shit off.

The law that will eventually pass in congress will be this:

All alcohol sold on the internet, or shipped via postal services, must be sent registered mail, and can only be picked up at the post office, where the original Credit Card and State ID must be shown

That should be enough to combat kids who want to buy alcohol from the internet. But I can only imagine what a 95 degree warehouse will do to a red.

Re:Save the fuckin' children, for chirsts sake! (0)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550746)

We don't want kids getting drunk and turning into alcoholics. Most banks and currency exchanges sell credit cards. All a kid needs to do is buy a credit card, they will sell them to anyone.

Are you smoking crack? What the hell kind of bank do you know of that gives credit cards to minors? You can't even get a checking account until you're an adult. Not to mention, when something is delivered that is of any value, a signature is usually required by the courier. Do you think DHL, UPS or FedEx are going to turn over a case of alcohol to a fourteen year old kid at the door?!

I guess we should require adults to show up at the post office to pick up condoms and their porno mags, too. Wouldn't want children ordering those.

Personally, I don't even care. Kids who are stupid enough to drink already drink and they do it without the internet. There are PLENTY of adults who readily buy alcohol for kids. Their kids, someone else's kids - even just a strange kid in front of a convenience store asking adults to bring them out a six pack.

Re:Save the fuckin' children, for chirsts sake! (4, Insightful)

Aeiri (713218) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550880)

What the hell kind of bank do you know of that gives credit cards to minors? You can't even get a checking account until you're an adult.

Prepaid credit cards are sold to people over 16, I believe. Same with checking accounts.

The legal age in this country is 18, so yes, they are minors.

Re:Save the fuckin' children, for chirsts sake! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550758)

no, kids will continue to get it like they always have: get someone else to buy/steal it.

Err wine? (0)

Luthair (847766) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550788)

How many minors have you met that would be interested in buying wine? Beer, hard liqour and coolers yes, but wine?

Re:Save the fuckin' children, for chirsts sake! (4, Insightful)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550802)

LOL, this is a health issue.

Then why involve the government in the equation?

Gasoline is a central nervous system depressant that can cause liver damage due to naturally occuring benzene that is expensive to remove.

Do you propose that children should be kept more than 15 meters from a gasoline pump? Kids are exposed to gasoline vapors while their parents are fueling their vehicles.

How about spray paint? Care to legislate the use of that material?

The fact is governmental attempts to control the or abuse of substances is expensive and bound to fail. You can argue that the damage done to individuals from substance abuse is a burden to society, while I can counter-point that the money spent to arrest, adjudicate, and incarcerate someone would be better spent on treatment.

Goverments are not good nannies.

Re:Save the fuckin' children, for chirsts sake! (1)

vegaspctech (769513) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550848)

LOL, this is a health issue. We don't want kids getting drunk and turning into alcoholics. Most banks and currency exchanges sell credit cards. All a kid needs to do is buy a credit card, they will sell them to anyone

I don't think so. Most, if not all states do not allow minors to enter into a contract without the additional signatures of their parents or legal guardians, and consider minors to be anyone under 18. What company will hand you a credit card without a legally binding contract?

Re:Save the fuckin' children, for chirsts sake! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550906)

If this was about preventing the kids from ordering alcohol over the internet, why did it only apply to out of state sales? The answer is it was never about the kids, it was about protecting in-state wineries.

Re:Commerce Clause (5, Informative)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550755)

I'm not sure you've understood the ruling. There is indeed a "holdover from alcohol prohibition [cornell.edu] " written into the amendment that repealed it that allows States to regulate [cornell.edu] the sale and "importation" of alcohol, and that right of the States hasn't been repealed here. (Nor does the Supreme Court have the power to render one part of the Constitution "unconstitutional". Well, there's one case where it does, but this isn't it.) What the Supremes did here was to interpret the Commerce Clause to forbid States from regulating imported alcohol (from out-of-State) any differently than they do locally produced alcohol.

It's fundamental to the way the US economic system was set up that the States are prohibited from acting in a protective manner over their industries with regard to other States. You can't charge a tarriff, for example, when you import cars into California from Detroit. What a State can do is regulate the way something is sold within its borders. It seems to me Section 2 of the 21st Amendment was put there to overcome objections from those States that wanted to remain dry after Prohibition was repealed for everyone else. I think the Supremes are holding them to this. States are still allowed to prohibit mail-order booze -- but they must prohibit all of it, not allow it from in-state producers and not those from out-of-state. Many of these laws (IIRC) were frankly written to protect local wine producers. That ain't allowed.

I agree that Michigan's desired ban seems silly. But if that's what they want, they can have it. The idea that people have the right and responsibility to mostly regulate their own local affairs as they see fit is basic to our federal system. That's why we have a federal government and not a national government. (It's been acting more like the latter than the former lately. That's no reason to wish it could when we want it to -- to, say, force Michigan to allow Internet wine sales -- and similtaneously wish it wouldn't when we don't -- in, for example, the way some "homeland security" issues are being handled.)

Re:Commerce Clause (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550760)

Actually, it isn't Michigan that came up with that idea. It's the WSWA- Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America. They represent the middlemen who stand to lose if they can be bypassed via the internet, so they came up with this bullshit idea of "but the kids will buy liquor over the internet if it's sold that way". It's bullshit- they're just trying to protect their localized monopolies.

Posting anonymously since I do a lot of business with WSWA types.

Re:Commerce Clause (4, Funny)

chihowa (366380) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550827)

Posting anonymously since I do a lot of business with WSWA types.

Ahhh, but we were one step ahead of you. We've completed the trace and the leg breaking is on its way. That'll teach you to post comments on Slashdot disparaging the WSWA. Bwahahahahaha

Re:Commerce Clause (4, Interesting)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550891)

It has nothing to do with making decisions for you, and everything to do with collecting money. California has loads of small wineries that market their goods online. If you're a distributor in, say, Ohio, you could distribute their product, but for the small number of cases they ship, it wouldn't be worth the effort -- it's much more efficient to distribute wine that comes in trainloads. But every case the indies ship to Ohio is a case you don't sell -- so it's in your interest to stop those cases at the Indiana line. And it's in the state's interest too, because liquor taxes are big and it's difficult to collect them on online sales.

There's an analogous situation here in Colorado: you can't buy a bottle of liquor on Sunday. The state isn't banning it to save your soul; you're welcome to drink your way to perdition in a bar. The reason? Sunday closing is much more harmful to total by-the-drink sales than it is to total package sales, and business overhead is substantially higher for a 7-day store than for a 6-day store. So bars stay open on Sunday, liquor stores close, and they're both happy. Every attempt to repeal the Sunday-closing law is shot down by the liquor business.

Same deal on cars, by the way...you can't buy a car on Sunday, and John Elway Toyota wouldn't have it any other way.

rj

The Geek/Wine Interface Is Now Complete (4, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550585)

Actually, if you live in Maryland (or many of the other impacted states), this is a long overdue, worthy development. I'm just waiting for the state to cut its own nose off, and ban the shipment of wine including that of the (marginal) local wineries.

Never the less, I expect that those of us that build e-commerce web sites will have a few hundred brand new - if slightly tipsy - customers. With the patchwork shipping problem gone, many of the smaller operations will now consider it worth getting into the game. Thank you, Supreme Court, for doing the right thing on this. Cheers!

Re:The Geek/Wine Interface Is Now Complete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550665)

whats really funny is the people who want the wine sales legalized are the same ones who want to ban the sale of tobacco over the internet directly to consumers, for tax money purposes.

I've been saying all along they can't do that as it violates the commerce clause. looks like big tobacco now has precedent.

Re:The Geek/Wine Interface Is Now Complete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550901)

Fuck that, who cares about taxes? The shit should be made as hard and expensive as possible to get because it's downright noxious!

Whew... (1, Offtopic)

nerd256 (794968) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550586)

I guess we can count on the courts to protect us from those M$-biased, patent hoarding, big business Congressmen trying to shut down the open source movement!

Ok, I bet I'm not the only one who misinterpreted the headline. But seriously, why is this on Slashdot, and why is it under YRO? Are the editors even trying?

Re:Whew... (2, Insightful)

Robotech_Master (14247) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550615)

Because it's about your right to order wine over the Internet. One o' them new-fangled Internet thing-a-majigs that the evil nasty gummint doesn't understand.

Re:Whew... (4, Insightful)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550620)

The alcohol business has a serious branding issue far worst than the computing industry. It's completely driven by marketing.

Small wine/beer companies have zero chance to compete against the likes of Budweiser, Busch, Coors and other lousy products meshed with superior marketing.

I cannot tell you the list of wine/beer that I highly prefer, that I will never see in any restaurant. Why? Cause they'd rather stock 300 bottles of Budlight that they can sell.

Re:Whew... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550781)

what's funny is a lot of people actually like bud. i'll drink it when i'm broke, honestly. i'd rather have a guinness, but my pocket money isn't always up for it. it's just capitalism at work my friend.

Why this is on Slashdot (4, Insightful)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550628)

1) It is a significant advance for common sense application of the Constitution. The states were clearly trying to help out whatever local businesses they had that would benefit from importation restrictions, and the Supremes saw through it. Hooray! 2) It is a blow to the idiocy of state-imposed taxes on Internet retail sales. The constitution is pretty clear that states don't get to post import duties on things brought in from other states. However, the states have been trying to squeak past this one for years. Maybe with this decision to lean on, it'll be another argument to prod the Supremes in future legal actions to reject a sales tax on cross-border transactions.

Lets Drink! Opps. Sorry, was that your SISTER? (3, Interesting)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550587)

In Oregon, where I come from, this is great news that wine drinkers will understand. This is a big win for QUALITY small wine makers, but really will not make that much difference to the E and G crowd.

But consider this: It is a big loss for "states rights", because it says that states have no right to control interstate commerce that passes through their borders.

Re:Lets Drink! Opps. Sorry, was that your SISTER? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550611)

They never could. It's in the Constitution.

Re:Lets Drink! Opps. Sorry, was that your SISTER? (5, Insightful)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550619)

But consider this: It is a big loss for "states rights", because it says that states have no right to control interstate commerce that passes through their borders.

States never, ever had the right to regulate interstate commerce. That power is reserved for congress.

The reason why is when we had the Articles of Confederation, every state regulated commerce, and it was a clusterfuck. It was like dealing with foriegn nations, all with their own tarrifs and trade policies.

This law has nothing to do with state rights, because it was never a state rights issue.

Re:Lets Drink! Opps. Sorry, was that your SISTER? (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550653)

States have never had the right to control strictly interstate commerce. The Constitution says that outright, granting that power to the Federal government, not the states. That's what the Court recognized here. This isn't to say the states can't regulate commerce in wine or alcoholic beverages in general. They can apply any rules they want to the sale of wines, it's just that only the Federal government can create rules that apply specifically to wines shipped between states. If the state wants to make a law that all wines have to be sold through a licensed wholesaler, they still can under the Court's decision. It's only when they say that out-of-state wines have to be sold that way but in-state wines don't that they run afoul of the rules.

Re:Lets Drink! Opps. Sorry, was that your SISTER? (2, Informative)

geomon (78680) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550660)

But consider this: It is a big loss for "states rights", because it says that states have no right to control interstate commerce that passes through their borders.

The states can still regulate the sale of alcohol within their borders.

They are just prohibited from applying the law in a manner that is discriminatory to out-of-state vendors.

Re:Lets Drink! Opps. Sorry, was that your SISTER? (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550675)

I don't get why it even matters. I mean, why should wine be any different than computer equipment, condoms, flowers or pepperidge farms gift baskets? Why should any of them be restricted (or for that matter, why shouldn't ALL of them be restricted).

Re:Lets Drink! Opps. Sorry, was that your SISTER? (5, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550701)

I don't get why it even matters. I mean, why should wine be any different than computer equipment, condoms, flowers or pepperidge farms gift baskets? Why should any of them be restricted (or for that matter, why shouldn't ALL of them be restricted).

It doesn't matter, and that's the point that the Supreme Court just hammered home. The real essence of this is that a state can do a lot of things to regulate what (and how) things can be sold in their state, but they can't do so in a way that discriminates against people in other states (people, in this case, being winemakers selling across the border). So, you can let everyone sell wine, or no one. But the patchwork of crazy regulations was definately restricting commerce in an asymmetrical (and unconstitutional) way.

Re:Lets Drink! Opps. Sorry, was that your SISTER? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550782)

It's because the 21st amendment ( (link) [wikipedia.org] ) specifically states that alcohol is treated specially.

Re:Lets Drink! Opps. Sorry, was that your SISTER? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550815)

DONT you PEOPLE understand THAT the PARENT is a TROLL???????

Oui (1)

Nifrith (860526) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550588)

I am sure ze french are very 'appy about dis.

What are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550644)

Canada is not a US state yet.

Re:What are you talking about? (0, Offtopic)

Quirk (36086) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550726)

J.P. Morgan said it long ago... "Canada is a very nice country and we intend to keep it that way."

So what? (3, Interesting)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550593)

I'm not trying to troll here, I just don't see how this is nerdy, relevant, or important at all. Sure, this is good for interstate commerce, but the federal government has had a strong record of opening that up anyway. All I can see happening because of this is teen lushes in Pennsylvania getting wasted on Napa Valley wine without their parents knowing.

Please, if you're more insightful than me, explain what the "broader" issue is.

Re:So what? (1, Offtopic)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550687)

Why is anything relating to beer considered Slashdot material, yet something relating to rights of products purchased over the internet not slashdot material when it references wine?

Re:So what? (1)

UlfGabe (846629) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550693)

this story is relevant because people like wine, and were not able to order out of state wine in some cases without tariffs.

Re:So what? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550710)

I'm sure I'm going to be taken for flamebait here - and that's alright - but what I want to know is why would people buy wine over the internet?

Maybe I misunderstand, but I though the entire point of being a wine drinker was showing off? I mean, isn't being a wine drinker sort of like spending $6 on starbucks when a 75 cent black coffee would do? Or more - pretending to like reggae or jazz so you look more interesting and sophisticated?

If that's the case, then buying wine over the internet would be like those people buying $6 coffee from a vending machine or listening to reggae and jazz in the privacy of their own home. It wouldn't serve any purpose because nobody would be there to be impressed by their sophistication.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

xlv (125699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550794)

but what I want to know is why would people buy wine over the internet?
Let's see: you've been on a trip to Napa Valley and went to a small vineyard there and bought a few bottles of a wine you enjoyed. Now back home, you'd like to get more of the same wine but can't find it at a retailer locally.

BTW, I don't really understand your comments: does the coffee taste the same everywhere (Mc Donalds, local Mom&Pop, Starbucks)? Is a burger from McDonalds the same as a burger from a fancy restaurant? I agree that some places are overrated but quality is something you have to pay for (not overpay though...)

Re:So what? (1)

iamplasma (189832) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550871)

Is a burger from McDonalds the same as a burger from a fancy restaurant?

I hate to break it to you, but if the "fancy restaraunt" you've been eating at serves burgers, chances are you aren't eating at a fancy restaraunt.

Seriously though, I suspect the real issue is more likely one of taxation and price than quality. While I'm sure there's a few people after some hard-to-find drop, let's face it, most people will probably do it because it's cheaper, and most states will want to prevent it because it is almost surely costing them a bundle in liquor taxes. Simple as that.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

Urox (603916) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550842)

Most people I know who are wine geeks are also food geeks: they are very palate oriented, love trying new tastes and new combinations. And wine is just another vector of exploration.

Starbucks is crap. Most coffee drinkers will agree on that they burn their beans. I wouldn't say music is easily comparable in good or bad for one genre or another.

Wine: there are some really crap wines out there. The only people who drink them are drinking it to get drunk. I didn't drink wine regularly until two years ago because I valued my brain cells over the poor quality of wines that I came across. I still don't like dry wines. But give me a nice ice wine or port and I'm quite happy. In fact, I spent last year's vacation in Portugal to explore ports. There are many things which make up a wine which aren't even present in the cheap crap: fruitiness (whether it tastes like bing cherries or apricots or pear even), acid, tannin, and how these are balanced. A lot of wines I try out are a little too high in acid to be drunk alone, but apply that acid to a pairing with cheese and it's the perfect compliment.

But back to your question of why would people buy wine over the internet: because their favorite wine is X miles away and they don't want to travel for it. There are really good wines that are sold a three hours drive away from me and I buy them over the internet because shipping is cheaper than the gas it would cost me to get up there and back. There are wines 400 miles away from me and in a different state and it would be great if I could get that specific wine that I like over the internet rather than have to travel there or order through a wine club with a heavy mark up.

And good wine isn't necessarily expensive either. I've found incredible ice wines at $20 where the average price goes for $60.

Life's too short for crap wine, killing brain cells with crap wine, and periods of time you don't remember because you were drunk off your ass (and excuses to act that way in the first place).

I'd have to know your niche to be able to make a comparison to explain. I'd say it is why a particular distro of linux is favored more than others.. and why all distros of linux are above and beyond your vending machine windows box.

Dong ma?

Re:So what? (1)

Narcissus (310552) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550854)

They're only buying the wine over the internet: it's not like they're all of a sudden not drinking it with friends!

Not that I have this problem in Australia, but I can give you one beauty of buying wine over the internet: corporate liquidation (no pun intended) auctions. We have a company here that deals with a lot of corporate failures that was (is still?) auctioning a fair whack of wine. I bought a dozen bottles of something (for the price, I wasn't picky!) that had a RRP of $25 each bottle and the dozen cost me around $60, including delivery.

Yep, I'm thankful for internet sales of alcohol, especially seeing as I can take care of it all while at work...

Re:So what? (3, Interesting)

SB5 (165464) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550730)

Teen lushes in Pennsylvania have no trouble finding liquor or beer. They did a survey or something to find out where kids got their alcohol, most of it came from parents or friends. Which just goes to show that parents or friends approve of kids of certain ages drinking. And frankly kids usually don't even like wine, and you can get alcohol shipped via mail.

My Dad's friend actually had 2 cases of wine sent to my Aunt's house while we were on vacation there because it was easier and cheaper since you couldn't get it from the state store, even by ordering it.

The law only seems to affect larger orders, unlike what kids order, kids don't go and order 12 bottles of wine. And if they want one bottle of wine, they could buy it off e-bay or some crap. Shipping 1 bottle is not a real problem because who would want to complain about one bottle being shipped, its like stopping someone for going just 1 mph over the amount a police officer can stop you at, its being a dick and a nitpick.

Re:So what? (2, Informative)

sugar and acid (88555) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550743)

No actually what it says is that Pennsylvania can't stop delivery of wine from californian distributers or wineries if it lets pennsylvanian distributers or wineries deliver wine. Pennsylvania can outright ban all home delivery of wine, local or from across the country but it can't favor local wine merchants and producers. They can "protect the children" that way if they wish to legislate it.

Now why is it on slashdot? I guess one of the editors likes wine.

I like it because it provides the opportunity to get small volume wines easily from the US and around the world. US wines direct from the winery, and imported wines from small importing and distribution businesses that now don't need large distribution networks to reach the whole nation.

Wheres Elliot? (3, Funny)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550595)

Is there a thriving business driving wooden barrells of wine over state borders in the USA? With the old trucks, and stetson hats and tommy guns?

Does the book keeper come along too?

OK, so my visualisation is a little close to the rediculous, but where I come from, nuclear weapons might get you in trouble.

But a bottle of 1986 Shiraz?

Will this make wine... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550596)

... free as in speech, or free as in beer?

Wow that caught me off guard (3, Funny)

CSMastermind (847625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550600)

I was so expecting to see an article about a Windows Emulator...I'm offically a hopeless nerd. Heh anyway...

My parents own a bar in Ohio. You know you'd be surprised the amount of laws there still are about these kind of things. I'm happy to see that these steps are being taken but really it makes one wonder about the state of interstate commerce.

Newsflash (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550601)

Nobody gives a shit

Get it right, it is the constitution (3, Insightful)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550605)

Their reasoning is that the states' 'authority to regulate the sale of alcohol within their borders' under the 21st Amendment does not supersede 'the Constitution's ban on state discrimination against interstate commerce

That is plain wrong.

The constitution grants congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.

A law regulating internet sale of alcohol will originate in congress. They might give some of the regulatory rights to states. Then it would be legal.

Re:Get it right, it is the constitution (3, Informative)

sydney094 (153190) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550714)

Actually, no... they were right. Aside from the fact that they are the Supreme Court, the issue was various states' laws about the interstate sale of alcohol. It didn't have a thing to do the with Internet per se... even if the Internet will be the major vehicle for such sales. Those laws allowed for intrastate sales, but not those from out of state. Only Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce (not the states), as such those laws were ruled to be discriminatory and protectionist.

And since we live in a country where things are legal unless they are made illegal by a law, when the law is overturned, those sales are now legal.

Re:Get it right, it is the constitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550855)

Oh... I get it. So that means I can go across the state line to Oregon and buy a car then bring it straight into California, register it and pay no taxes?

Why didn't you tell me this before? Did anybody tell California that their tax laws were illegal?

Re:Get it right, it is the constitution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550831)

The hang up was not that they were blocking interstate shipping. You're right about that part, they are allowed to do that.

What they are not allowed to do, however, is to create laws that prevent vendors from other states from enjoying the same opportunities to conduct business as those enjoyed by in-state vendors. To be in compliance with the commerce clause, states have to either block BOTH in-state and out-of-state vendors from selling direct to customers, or allow BOTH in-state and out-of-state vendors to do so. It's a protectionist trade policy which is not allowed. If there were concerns about, say, contaminants or alcohol content or some other issue, it may be a different matter becaue then it would not actually be an equal product.

They can prevent the sales, but the policy has to treat vendors within the state the same as it treats those outside of the state. *That's* where the violation comes from.

Maybe... (2)

mattmentecky (799199) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550606)

Maybe its the snarkish nature of me, but minus the Internet part....doesnt this seem like a court case that should have been decided in the...oh say, 1800s?

Re:Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550640)

Considering the laws it overturned were rather recent (the past couple decades at most) and they were based on an authority claimed to be derived from the 21st Amendment which was ratified in 1933 I would say.....no.

try 1930 something (2, Informative)

Nf1nk (443791) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550672)

This case settles a conflict between the interstate commerece clause and the 21st amendment Passed February 20, 1933.
Section 2.

The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

well that alows states to regulate the transport of booze in their borders, but many states NY in particular were using this to bolster local wineries at the expense of out of state whineries

Re:try 1930 something (1)

Iffy Bonzoolie (1621) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550808)

Still, it's been a bit of a while, don't you think?

-If

Re:Maybe... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550780)

In the 1800's there were few, if any laws. Then came Prohibition, and when that (thankfully and inevitably) failed we got the 21st Amendment.

In true American style, however, we couldn't grant ourselves a freedom without imposing restrictions. The drinking age was one that arguably makes sense (though IMO it should still be 18.) The rest are purely arbitrary and defined by the community, which is why some states can't sell liquor on Sunday, some states only allow liquor sales in state run stores, most (but not all) have cut-off times when it can't be sold at night. That's why can you buy beer all night in New York, but liquor and wine sales stop at midnight. And it's why can't you buy wine in a supermarket in NYC when California lets you buy anything in any store as long as it's before 2am.

slashdot, news for lawyers? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550609)

i know, i hate adequacy and appropriateness trolls as much as the next

but seriously, this story is pretty far off the mark of slashdot's focus, no?

am i missing something?

Re:slashdot, news for lawyers? (3, Interesting)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550646)

i know, i hate adequacy and appropriateness trolls as much as the next

but seriously, this story is pretty far off the mark of slashdot's focus, no?

am i missing something?

Every IT person I know is also a wine nut. I guess programming and drinking large quantities of wine go hand in hand.

Edit that... Drinking large quantities of cheap wine that you convince everyone is better than the expensive wine. I had one buddy who went crazy over Chilean wines. He kept claiming their $8 dollar a bottle reds were better than most $30 dollar a bottle reds here in the states.

Then again, I guess to read his code you would have to be drunk. It is the cypher.

Re:slashdot, news for lawyers? (1)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550754)

I can't help but to think that any time any part of any level of government takes away the notion that another part of government can overstep its bounds... it's got to be a good thing.

I wish that someone would take the Feds to task on their belief that they somehow have jurisdiction if someone grows pot in his closet.

The Federal government goes so far beyond its Constitutional mandate it makes me sick. It's as though the executive and legislature have had someone rip the 10th Amendment out of their pocket-sezed Constitution pamphlets.

Justices Vote Was Surprising (4, Interesting)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550624)

Kennedy, Scalia, Souter, Ginsberg and Breyer... what a majority.

John Paul Stevens and Clarence Thomas against!?! When was the last time they were on the same side of the fence?

Maybe this court isn't as political as some seem to believe.

Re:Justices Vote Was Surprising (5, Interesting)

drmerope (771119) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550728)

This is still a very usual split, but overall, the political nature of the court is exaggerated. When I last saw stats (several years ago), any pairwise comparison of the justices found them in agreement at least 60% of the time.

That said, this particular 5-4 split has not happened in the past ten years

However, within 5-4 decisions, Stevens and Thomas agree about 16 percent of the time.

Scalia was clearly the swing-vote on this case

"Although Scalia is no fan of the dormant commerce clause, he has written that: ... I will, on stare decisis grounds, enforce a self executing "negative" Commerce Clause in two situations: (1) against a state law that facially discriminates against interstate commerce, and (2) against a state law that is indistinguishable from a type of law previously held unconstitutional by this Court.

Since the state laws in question here demonstrably fell into the former category, and we can infer that Scalia was not persuaded by Thomas' account of the 21st amendment, stare decisis required him to vote to strike down these laws." (http://www.professorbainbridge.com/2005/05/suprem e_court_s.html [professorbainbridge.com] )

Re:Justices Vote Was Surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550805)

So much for Scalia being a "constructionist". I guess that being a judicial activist is only defined when you are going against Republican views. I wonder what Republicans have to say. I think they're confused... no peeps out of them yet.

Gun control? (3, Insightful)

SerialHistorian (565638) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550638)

the constitution's "ban on state discrimination against interstate commerce.'" Interesting. Does that mean that gun control laws that ban interstate sale of firearms or requires exchange only by licensed dealers are also unconstitutional?

You Could Probably Make that Argument... (2, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550668)

If they're STATE laws. A federal law to that effect would stand, since the federal government is the one that gets to regulate interstate trade.

Re:Gun control? (3, Insightful)

ryturner (87582) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550674)

No, those restrictions are federal laws. Individual states can't put those types of restrictions on commerce.

Re:Gun control? (4, Insightful)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550703)

No, the laws regulating intersate firearms sales and shipments are Federal.

Misread headline (1)

Joey Patterson (547891) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550643)

Supreme Court Allows Direct Shipment of Wine

But I used to be able to just download it off the Internet! Hopefully now it won't get mixed up with all those AOL CDs that I get in the mail.

Texas also prohibited shipments from out-of-state (3, Interesting)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550648)

But, a bill was just enacted and signed by the governor on 5/9 (and effective immediately) to change that:

SB 877 [state.tx.us]

Reading the text of the enacted bill:

Enrolled version [state.tx.us]

It looks like shipping direct to consumers from in-state wineries was also illegal, so perhaps the Supreme Court decision wouldn't have changed anything.

So what? (2, Insightful)

Radio Shack Robot (640478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550651)

Why does this stuff matter to nerds?

Re:So what? (1)

JenovaSynthesis (528503) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550678)

Because now we can get cheap booze online. Before I stumbled upon it in Whole Foods, I would have to drive almost an hour and a half depending on how I-275/696 where to get the meade I like since I could not mail order it.

Two reasons (1)

squarooticus (5092) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550747)

(1) Nerds care about liberty, part of which includes freedom from unnecessary government fettering; and

(2) Nerds drink. :)

As a sub-21 college student... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550654)

Living in Wisconsin (a state that currently bans the direct shipment of wine), this is a welcome thanks to underage drinking everywhere.

Now I can finally join the wine.com club and get my monthly bottles of wine without even using a front!

God bless the USA.

It's the basic dilemma of democracy (4, Interesting)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550657)

Thomas' dissent was about respecting the laws that congress had already established, the written letter of the constitution and the "protecting minors" angle that the states supposedly had. Beside the obvious fact that protecting minors was never a factor in this regulatory area, Thomas does indirectly invoke a good question. Where does too much freedom become a problem?

I happen to believe that morality means nothing when not imposed from within. Law and order can only accomplish so much and history has shown that the states that care about peace and that leave the matters of personal morality like sex and drug use to the church to deal with are the states that have the most peace. That's why some of us believe that the state's goal should be to maximize freedom to the highest extent without undermining law and order, even if many of the people don't want it.

For libertarians, this makes sense. Why not be able to have both unfettered school prayer AND legal drug use by adults? Isn't society better off when the individual is free and the government has a few defined tasks that it specializes on rather than becoming some monstrosity that has 50 bazillion departments that regulate everything from littering to education to the hair cut a toy poodle can have on sunday? Sometimes what the people want isn't moral or legal as it infringes on the rights of others without cause.

There was no good reason to keep people from being able to buy wine from other states directly. Part of the goal of the establishment of the federal government was to turn the states into a free trade zone. That's why the federal government has the exclusive authority to regulate interestate commerce. The "will of the people" had to bow to the law, and sometimes doing that actually makes the people freer than they may want to admit.

Part of the reason we have a constitution is that our founders did not believe that the will of the people often should be followed... and for good reason. It was the will of most whites for much of our history to keep blacks down. It was the will of most Germans to elect Hitler. Go down the line and you'll see that good men and women backed by good laws, not a democratic process, have carried the day for freedom and justice.

Please support your argument with real facts (5, Insightful)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550905)

I happen to believe that morality means nothing when not imposed from within.

OK. Agreed.

Why not be able to have both unfettered school prayer AND legal drug use by adults?

We have legal school prayer. The only issue is whether an authority acting in government capacity can lead it or not. But of course, that's not "morality being imposed". That's only the government telling you how to pray. Completely different.

Isn't society better off when the individual is free and the government has a few defined tasks that it specializes on rather than becoming some monstrosity that has 50 bazillion departments that regulate everything from littering to education to the hair cut a toy poodle can have on sunday?

Where's the poodle part? Not aware of that. The government has evolved to be big. How would you know how large it should be? Oh that's right, you're making practical decisions based on idealogical principles! How silly of me! We don't need any evidence that it could work in a modern society! Count me in!

It was the will of most whites for much of our history to keep blacks down.

For the first ones, it really depends on how you define "most". In 1861 (over 100 years ago, thus further than over half our history ago), a man was elected president from a new party founded on the basis of abolishing slavery. He recieved most of the popular vote. Most of the founding fathers were against slavery in principle, but saw no way out of it (many freed their slaves after their death).

It was the will of most Germans to elect Hitler.

Hitler never got the majority of the popular vote so I fail to see how that's most. His high was somewhere around 1/3. In fact, if the laws written in the Weimar constitution were actually followed, Hitler would've never had vast sweeping powers. But Hitler decided he didn't need a big government making laws and abolished the government by fiat He could do it himself! I guess you and he do have something in common!

(As a caveat, disolving the representitive body in England caused a civil war a few hundred years ago. The Germans had no such response in the 1930's, so maybe I'll give you popular acquiescence, but no doubt caused by popular fear).

Seriously, I enjoy your principles, but where you go with it and how you derive it are simply ranting. If I want sensationalism, I'll watch Jerry Springer.

Wish it helped me more in Maryland (4, Informative)

[ByteMe] (145131) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550671)

This ruling might be good news for some folks in the long term, but in the short term at least it doesn't help folks in Maryland (and from what I can tell most other states). The existing state laws here don't contradict the USSC requirements.

Useful links:
Wine Institute pages on interstate wine shipping:
http://www.wineinstitute.org/shipwine/ [wineinstitute.org]

US Wine shipping laws, state-by-state, from Wine Institute data
http://wi.shipcompliant.com/Home.aspx [shipcompliant.com]

Status of Maryland state laws is that individual wineries have to pay a $10 annual license fee, and that only allows them to ship wines that aren't otherwise available locally, and then they still have to use the three-tier system (so they have to ship to a distributor/wholesaler who then ships to a retailer near me).

That's a pretty painful process, and it's not obvious that it produces a useful result. (If the wine is sold anywhere in the state, then it's not eligible for this shipping method AFAICT, even if there's nowhere within an hour's drive that stocks the wine...)

Needless to say, it's more likely that I'd have such a wine shipped to a friend in a nearby state, or just find a store in DC/VA with a better selection where I can actually buy that wine. But that doesn't address things like "wine of the month" clubs which might be nice but which simply can't comply with Maryland restrictions.

Re:Wish it helped me more in Maryland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550887)

Congratulations for highlighting how corrupt the sale of alcohol is in the USA.

In other, developed, modern, nations these restrictions don't exist. And strangely enough, the problem(s) with teenagers is no different than it would otherwise be.

Thunderbird (1)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550692)

Great, now I don't have to go out to get Thunderbird [bumwine.com] .

I wonder if the bottles will come indivdually wrapped in a paper bag.

Hey, it's good enough for Mentats!

It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
It is by the juice of Sapho that thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning.
It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
- Piter De Vries

The Baptists will be/get pissed. (4, Interesting)

MonkeyBoyo (630427) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550736)

Baptists (non drinkers) have been a major force behind attempted legislation to force all alcohol to be sold from local retail outlets. They claim it is so underage kids can't order their own wine and drift into a life of sin. But who really thinks that a parent would not notice credit charge bills or large packages delivered to home.

The real reason is to keep other adult Baptists from secrectly drinking. Right now, most "wet Baptists" have to drive 100 miles to buy their hooch at liquor store where it is unlikely someone will recognize them. UPS delivery will make it much easier to be secrectly wet.

"If you go fishing with a Baptist, make sure there is at least 2 of them" (e.g. if there is only one then he will drink all of your beer).

My question (1)

Fermatprime (883412) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550770)

When are the Supremes going to rule on Ashcroft v. Raich (the medical marijuana case) and MGM v. Grokster (if you don't know what it is, you don't deserve to live.) ? That's what we care about! (DISCLAIMER: I'm not of legal drinking age yet, so I shouldn't and won't profess an interest in this...it could well be overturned by the time I'm allowed to buy the wine legally...)

Read it carefully (1)

Deanasc (201050) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550778)

The supreme court struck down laws that allowed intrastate shipments but banned interstate shipment. This doesn't mean a state can't ban the direct shipping of wines outright. Sure it will kill a couple small local wineries if that happens. But it's not like those wineries will replace the taxes lost to out of state purchases. That's what it comes down to. Taxes. Not keeping booze away from children.

I do admit to figuring out how to get wine mailed to me back in high school however it was the 1980's and I always was an early adopter. So I do admit that there is the danger that some kid will get a hold of wine. Perhaps that kid will develop a taste for it and learn to drink slowly and appreciate the subtle nuances of the vintners art.

In all actuality though they'll make it into spritzers and use it trying to get into that neighbor girls panties.

This explicitly DOESN'T legalize it everywhere. (3, Informative)

Kelmenson (592104) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550800)

The article even says this, although most seem to be overlooking it.

``If a state chooses to allow direct shipment of wine, it must do so on evenhanded terms,'' Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court in Washington.
and
The decision leaves open the possibility that state legislatures can revamp their laws to ban both in-state and out- of-state direct shipments.
Simply a state must apply the same laws to wineries out of state as it does in state. But if in state wineries can't do it, out of state ones can be blocked as well.

About time America (3, Interesting)

microbrewer (774971) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550812)

This is great news for me seeing that was partly involved in the setting up of a online beer company whos main sales outlet is the internet and who have a Custom Label web app so you can create your own labels to put on the bottles .

The company is called Brewtopia and the beer is called Blowfly based in Sydney, Australia and they offer shares for signing up as member on the website and for refering friends .They also give you a share in the company for ordering the beer online and ship it via courier to your house only if you live in Australia of course.

Recently they annouced they are preparing a IPO to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.

http://www.blowfly.com.au/ [blowfly.com.au] if you want to join up ,

Now I live in the US Blowfly Beer has been unavailble in the US partly due to the law of commerce across state lines

Great News for small wineries and microbrewers in the US and maybe even Australia .

Good (1)

dmarx (528279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550856)

I agree with this decision. It is not the state's business whether or not I get my wine from a liquor store or over the Internet. Despite their talk about sales to minors, the real concern of people who supported the bans on out of state direct shipments (and now all direct shipments) was/is the bottom line of wholesalers and liquor store owners.

WOOT!!! (0)

theskullboy (738616) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550867)

Now my 16 yr old son can get booze with out me even knowing about it! WOOT! Go Go Supreme Court! Angry Parent

Why this is relevent Geek news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12550868)

Come on people...this court decision belongs on slashdot...don't y'all see that Internet Wine Sales are gonna be the next big thing? Who do you think are gonna be on all of the pop-ups!

Doesn't anyone care about safety? (4, Funny)

lheal (86013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12550913)

Youth should be taught safe drinking. They should learn to know their limits, and what alcohol can do to them.

After all, they're going to drink, so let's make sure they do it properly.

It's time for a drinker's license, just as there are driver's licenses and hunting licenses. You should have to pass a test (with both written and practical components), or you shouldn't get to drink.

In the absence of a drinker's license, kids will learn their drinking skills from peers and young adults, often those with the worst drinking skills. Bartenders, while often highly trained professionals, seldom have the time to instruct young novice drinkers on the finer points such as:

  • which drinks can get you hammered quickest
  • proper chugging technique
  • how to fake being drunk to avoid awkward social circumstances
  • how to fake being sober to avoid awkward legal circumstances
  • how to select the proper drink regimen to avoid blowing chunks
  • the proper use of "beer goggles", and how to act in the morning when they no longer work

Until we properly attend to the needs of our youth, we won't be sure of the kind of society we'll become. The future of drinking, and our civilization built on its mighty foundation, is too important to be left to random chance.

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