Supreme Court Hears Alcohol Distribution Argument

Posted: Nov 06, 2019

Oklahoma Supreme Court justices seemed skeptical Tuesday that a law regulating alcohol distribution in the state is unconstitutional.

Justices heard arguments for and against SB 608, and asked lawyers on both sides of a legal challenge about the law’s effects on a competitive market in the alcohol industry.

The law would require equal sales of the top-25 brands of wine and spirits to all wholesalers in Oklahoma. This seemed to concern some justices who voiced support for a free market in the industry.

“Do you not think that going from forced sale to free competition is really what we’re all about in Oklahoma?” Chief Justice Noma Gurich asked attorneys arguing in favor of SB 608.

“Because that’s what you want, you want to go back to forced sales,” Gurich said.

Oklahoma County District Judge Thomas Prince ruled Aug. 12 that SB 608 signed in May by Gov. Kevin Stitt, violated the constitution.

The law changes what voters approved in 2016, and the state implemented in 2018, to allow wine and spirits manufacturers the ability to designate sole distributors of their products, instead of being forced to sell to every wholesaler in the state.

This change occurred as part of the same measure that allowed for wine and strong beer sales in grocery and convenience stores.

By David Dishman
November 6, 2019

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