Vice Squad
Friday, August 27, 2004
Wine Wars by Professor Zywicki

Two weeks ago I mentioned that Professor Todd Zywicki was blogging about the coming Supreme Court case concerning direct interstate shipment of wine to consumers. Last week, Mike mentioned more of Professor Zywicki's connected posts, these on the pre-Prohibition attempts to preclude alcohol production in wet states from undermining the dry laws of neighboring states.

The Wine Wars series now comprises some eleven posts, plus unnumbered posts. Here's number eleven, the most recent, which argues that a 2000 amendment to federal alcohol law was still premised on the notion that, while states could choose their own alcohol policies, they could not discriminate between in-state and out-of-state producers and distributors. There's an unexpected connection to anti-terrorism activity, too.

Professor Zywicki's Wine Wars series presents a pretty comprehensive brief for the notion that it is unconstitutional for states like Michigan and New York to forbid direct shipment of wine to households from out-of-state wineries, while permitting it for in-state wineries. It is worth reading in full. I want to make only two observations here. First, the difficulty that the Webb-Kenyon Act of 1913 was designed to address -- the undermining of state alcohol controls through legal "imports" for personal use -- is precisely the problem that troubles Northern Europe today. Second, the major problem that Zywicki identifies with national alcohol Prohibition, and a problem noted by many repeal supporters at the time, is also a major problem with current drug prohibition: "federal meddling in state and local affairs," or "federal overreaching into local police power matters," to quote from part 8 of Wine Wars. (For one aspect of the current overreaching, see Pete at Drug WarRant's discussion of the defeated Hinchey amendment.)

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