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Court rules Texas liquor store laws unconstitutional-- precedent for Tesla?

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Well-Known Member
Jun 5, 2013
Austin, TX
A federal court has ruled that Texas laws on who can (and can't) get liquor store licenses violates the Commerce Clause and the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection. Could this be a precedent to allow Tesla direct sales? Let's hope the auto dealer cartel is the next to be overturned.

Judge's ruling would let Texas consumers buy booze from Walmart and Costco

Some excerpts:
"A protectionist Texas law that has kept Walmart, Costco and other giant retailers from selling hard liquor was found unconstitutional by a federal judge this week, prompting cheers from free-market advocates — and vows of a quick appeal from one of the parties on the losing side...
..The fight over the arcane Texas liquor laws began three years ago when Walmart sued the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in federal court in Austin, arguing state liquor laws unfairly gave family-owned chains the right to obtain unlimited liquor store permits while shutting the largest U.S. retailer out of the lucrative market entirely.
In a sweeping 50-page opinion, Pitman sided with Walmart, ruling that provisions of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code violated both the Commerce Clause and the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law.
“Texas is the only state in the nation that issues package store permits to privately owned corporations, but refuses to let publicly owned corporations participate in the retail liquor market,” said Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield. “Walmart filed suit because these laws are unfair and hurt our customers. We are grateful for Judge Pitman’s thoughtful opinion, finding that these laws violate the U.S. Constitution.”
Re: the main post - federal court will be our only way out of the current dealership structure. The dealers’ association is too powerful for a political change. I could see the same rationale being applied to car dealerships as is being applied here to liquor licenses.
Are the liquor stores separate from the main stores? That may get around it. Regular grocery stores can’t sell hard liquor - only beer and wine.
They share a wall, but yes they have separate entrances. With different hours of operation.

The linked article said that the prohibition of getting a license was on "publicly traded companies". Not sure how Costco legal two-stepped around that one. *shrug*

Sadly yeah about count is the most feasible path to challenge. Once the law got put in there's way too much money behind keeping it there and very little public awareness to see it end via Legislature. That said, and that I'm no lawyer, the two things seem only tenably linked and there's probably a lot more plausible case for an interest by the state that'll hold up. Plus someone would probably need to file suit to get the ball rolling. That'd probably be Tesla, not sure who else would have clear standing outside of GM et al which are unlikely to want to help. Musk doesn't have much of a litigious track record, I don't really see him bothering to engage here.
Trial court decisions are not to be cited as case law, unlike published opinions of courts of appeal and the Supremes.

Yes, there are striking similarities between these two situations.

But IANAL, and we do not have case law on this matter yet, if we ever will--it will depend on the Court of Appeals in New Orleans or the ennead in Washington.

If we assume that the trial court's decision is sustained all the way up the food chain, then the lawyers will have to parse the facts in both situations to see how relevant the decision is for Tesla.
Wait, the Costco near Willowbrook and up in The Woodslands both have had liquor stores for several years? Are they run behind the scenes by someone licensing the Costco name and leasing the retail space?

Costco leases them the space. In Austin, the company is Western Beverages if I recall correctly. They just keep this fact quiet. You will likely see “no membership required” on the door.
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I don't know about it being any sort of precedent It's a trial court ruling on a law that really isn't very similar to the one protecting the dealerships. Now, had it been a challenge to the mandatory, three-tier alcoholic beverage system in Texas, that could really have meant something.

What this ruling does show is that parties are more willing to challenge certain laws on a Constitutional basis and that courts may not be so quick to give great deference to a state legislature.
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Costco leases them the space. In Austin, the company is Western Beverages if I recall correctly. They just keep this fact quiet. You will likely see “no membership required” on the door.
Yeah, I do recall not requiring to pull out the membership card to get in. (I shopped The Woodlands once, buying a bottle of Warres 1985 (I think?) for an anniversary gift). Seemed a touch odd but didn't suspect this. I recall I actually had it pulled out the card at the till but they just wanted my DL & the cash. Huh.