Great post here about new direct wine shipping legislation in Maryland. The language of the proposed Maryland law would make it illegal for so-called “brokering” websites to complete orders between Maryland residents and out-of-state wineries.
This bill, as the article points out, it mainly targeted at Amazon’s new wine platform, where Amazon solicits orders, but then passes on to the actual winery, the responsibility of fulfilling the order. Facebook is purportedly planning to being engaging in this type of business as well.
Very interesting to add to this, though, is how all of the kinks of Granholm v. Heald have not yet been worked out, insofar as it applies to this type of interstate commerce. For example, Granholm makes it unconstitutional for a state to enact laws that burden in-state and out-of-state wineries differently. What is the unanswered question, though, is whether this also applies to other types of businesses in the wine industry (in other words, non-wineries). Take, for example, wine retailers. Should the same principle apply? The Supreme Court has not spoken directly to this question.
Also, I think there’s a good argument that the law itself is a violation of Granholm. For example, if an Amazon-like website were based in Maryland, maybe the law would operate differently. Add to that the assumption that the ultimate transaction remains between a resident and a winery, and you possibly have a violation of the plain mandate of Granholm.
I understand that that observation requires two assumptions, both of which can be attacked. However, I just remain fascinated at states’ attempts to draft statutes that walk the line of violating the letter of Granholm, and if not, surely the spirit of it.
(This posting is not to be construed as legal advice. If any of the information in this posting relates to legal issues that you are facing, you should contact an attorney.)
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