By David White
Founder/editor of the wine blog Terroirist
Imagine if Texas lawmakers, in a bid to protect mom-and-pop bookstores, barred Amazon.com from shipping into the state. Or if Massachusetts legislators, worried about Boston’s shoe boutiques, prohibited residents from ordering from Zappos.com.
Such moves would infuriate consumers. They might also breach the Constitution’s commerce clause, which limits states from erecting trade barriers against one another. But wine consumers, producers and retailers face such restrictions daily.
Last month, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced a bill in the House that would allow states to cement such protectionist laws. It should appall wine snobs, beer swillers and even teetotalers. In this case, the law would protect not small stores and liquor producers, but the wholesale liquor lobby.
Like virtually all of America’s liquor laws, this proposal traces its origins to the temperance movement. When Prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933, states were given the authority to regulate the “transportation or importation” of “intoxicating liquors” within their borders.
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