Warm beer sucks. Unless maybe you live in or are from Europe.
Wait, no. Warm beer sucks.
An Appeals Court recently upheld an Indiana law that states grocery stores and convenience stores cannot sell cold beer. A trade association has, for the last few years, been trying to get that Indiana law invalidated on the grounds of it being unconstitutional. I did a double take after seeing that and had to look more into it.
Apparently, what’s at the heart of the matter for the trade association (representing grocery and convenience stores) is that Indiana liquor stores are allowed to sell cold beer, but not grocery or convenience stores. And so the association is claiming the law is unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
Quick Constitutional refresher: The equal protection clause relates to the 14th Amendment. And the EPC really applies “when a state grants a particular class of individuals the right to engage in an activity yet denies other individuals the same right.” However, “There is no clear rule for deciding when a classification is unconstitutional.” So does a trade association count as an individual? I don’t know. Maybe? Oh jeez, this is getting goofy. I’ll just say kudos to the lawyers of the association for reaching for a way to have standing in federal court and then I’ll move on with more absurdity surrounding this case.
The Indiana law is really intending to prevent someone from drinking beer immediately; making it more of a law of inconvenience than is it a law of regulation. Don’t believe me? According to the state’s opinion, “this regulatory scheme is to curb underage beer consumption by limiting the sale of immediately consumable cold beer”.
Remember when you were underage and you only drank beer from a store right away and never waited until later that day/evening for people to come over to party? Yeah, neither do I.
What great logic those legislators must’ve been using. I can just imagine how the brainstorming discussion unfolded…
- Legislator 1: “We need an issue to tackle.”
- Legislator 2: “Teens suck.”
- Legislator 1: “Yes. But how can we make than an issue?”
- Legislator 2: “Teens want to drink.”
- Legislator 1: “Go on.”
- Legislator 2: “Teens are impatient.”
- Legislator 1 scratching his chin: “Hmmm. How can we unnaturally mash those two things together?”
- Legislator 3: “What about our funding shortfall for K-12 education over the next two years?”
- Legislator 1: “Shut up Carl, we’re working on something important.”
- Legislator 4: “Gentlemen. If we pass a law that requires people to wait about 30 minutes from the time they buy beer to the time it chills and are able to drink it, we’ll obviously reduce the number of underage people drinking.”
And yet, we’re still not done. This all gets even weirder.
Apparently grocery stores and convenience stores can only sell warm beer because they have a beer dealer’s permit. So what would a store need in order to sell cold beer? Why, get a beer retailer’s permit of course. Dealer, retailer. Dealer, retailer. Sounds about the same, right? Wanna get nit-picky?
A retailer is at the bottom-of-the-supply chain, and are the direct seller of goods to consumers.
Ok. So what’s a dealer?
A dealer is in the middle of the chain and buys from a producer/distributor to sell for wholesaling and retail sale.
Um…but wouldn’t a grocery store seem to better fit the definition of a retailer? I guess you could argue that they can act as both. But in the actions they perform relating to beer sales, they definitely fit the retailer category. Maybe the courts can clarify.
They already did? Great. What did they say?
The Appeals Court said that grocery and convenience stores “simply don’t operate in the manner required for a beer retailer’s permit”.
Ohhhhhh. So a beer retailer’s permit has more rigorous aspects to it and thus liquor stores are subject to stricter regulations then?
Try again. There are actually more requirements for a dealer permit than there are for a retailer permit. Don’t believe me?
Beer dealer permit:
Beer retailer permit:
For the love of God, what is the difference then?
Maybe it’s because Indiana liquor stores may only allow those over the age of 21 to enter their place of business. So that obviously must mean that Indiana liquor stores have a bouncer or someone who cards every customer who walks into the store. But nope, they don’t. They card at the register at the time of sale…….the same as grocery stores and convenience stores.
That’s it. I quit. Come on over across the border all you Hoosiers. We may have just as dumb of a State government, but at least we can buy cold beer from any store.
And now I’m just left wondering what’s worse.
- That people can’t buy cold beer from a grocery store.
- That the State thinks that if they prevent people from buying cold beer, that will somehow reduce the number of underage drinkers.
- That the State is actually splitting hairs over its own designation of what a liquor store can do with beer over a grocery store in order to justify an absurd policy.
- That the courts and tax-payer money have actually been wasted on this case for YEARS.
- That in the course of researching this topic, I found out Blue Laws of Indiana prohibit the sale of alcohol on Sundays and Christmas to enforce religious standards as people should either be in church or otherwise not drink on a holy day.
- That I now know more about Indiana liquor sales laws and regulations than a normal person should EVER know.
Yeah, it’s probably that last one. And now, since I have a headache. I’m gonna go get a drink.