The US Supreme Court has banned protectionist measures in some states that prevented out-of-state wineries from selling their products directly to consumers.
In a 5-4 vote, the court revoked legislation in New York and Michigan that prohibited sales by out-of-state winemakers. The two states formerly allowed only in-state businesses to directly sell to consumers.
"It is evident that the object and design of the Michigan and New York statutes is to grant in-state wineries a competitive advantage over wineries located beyond the states' borders," the court said in its ruling. "We hold that the law in both states discriminates against interstate commerce."
The ruling will have only a minor effect on the wine selling industry, but could set a precedent for other sectors of the economy and foster e-commerce because it invalidates protectionist measures in trade between states.
Out-of-state shipments of items like cars and contact lenses are currently subject to regulations in some states.
"This decision reaffirms the basic principle that the authority to regulate does not include the authority to discriminate," said Steve Simpson, a senior attorney for the Institute of Justice, a libertarian law firm that represented two wineries in the case.
Only 37 US states allow direct sales of wine to consumers, with the remaining 14 banning mail order wine selling altogether.
Russ Fradin, senior vice president of business development at online retailer Wine.com, told vnunet.com: "This affects six states. It is a very small deal."
Wine.com claims to be the largest online wine seller in the world, shipping to all 37 states that allow mail order wine sales, including New York and Michigan.
Any retailer can ship to those states, provided they have the proper licences. The ruling only applies to vineyards that want to sell to consumers directly.
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