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Supreme Court Paves Way for Internet Wine Sales

Washington, D.C., The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 yesterday against laws that block shipments of wine to consumers across state lines while allowing in-state shipments. “States have broad power to regulate liquor,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority. “This power, however, does not allow states to ban, or severely limit, the direct shipment of out-of-state wine while simultaneously authorizing direct shipment by in-state producers.”

Twenty-four states bar direct-to-consumer out-of-state shipments of wine. The court was specifically studying similar laws in New York and Michigan that outlawed such shipments. The move was cheered by wineries that expect to capitalize on increased Internet sales, but existing wine shops could be hurt.

The 24 states that have banned direct shipments from out-of-state wineries are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Vermont.

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