WSWA Applauds Ruling to Dismiss Missouri Retail-Direct Shipping Case

Jun 19, 2018
Ruling Reaffirms Legitimacy of State Authority and Three-Tier System

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) today applauded a Missouri judge’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit that attempted to compel Missouri to let out-of-state retailers ship alcohol directly to Missouri residents, circumventing the state’s distribution system (Sarasota Wine Market v. Parson). The ruling reinforced the legitimacy and importance of the state’s system of beverage alcohol distribution and sale.


The ruling was issued June 15 by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. District Judge Henry Autrey dismissed the suit “because the challenged statutes do not result in discrimination between in-state and out-of-state producers or products, and because the statutes are legitimate exercises of Missouri’s authority under the Twenty-first Amendment, [so] the Complaint fails to state a Commerce Clause claim upon which relief can be granted.”


The ruling also noted that, “to allow out-of-state retailers to ship directly to Missouri residents would not only burden in-state retailers, who would have to operate within the . . . system while out-of-state retailers could circumvent the Missouri regulatory system entirely, it would also violate the Twenty-first Amendment by undermining Missouri’s ‘unquestionably legitimate’ system.”


"For more than eight decades the Twenty-first Amendment has given states the right to regulate alcohol and oversee licensees as the primary regulatory authority,” WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf said.


“This ruling reaffirms the legitimacy of state regulatory authority under the Twenty-first Amendment and the benefits provided by the three-tier system, including efficient tax collection, protection against tainted and counterfeit alcohol, a balanced marketplace and the widest choice of beverage alcohol products available anywhere in the world today,” Wolf added.


This decision follows a similar Illinois ruling issued last year; both have consistently upheld the state’s beverage-alcohol distribution system. View Judge Autrey’s full opinion here


WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry, dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesalers, distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has more than 380 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and its members distribute more than 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the U.S.