LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Retailers outside Michigan can’t send alcohol directly to the state’s consumers, a federal appeals court said.
The court overturned a decision by a federal judge in Detroit who had described Michigan’s restrictions as an “unjustifiable protectionist regime.”
The dispute centered on a law passed in 2016 by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder. It allows in-state retailers to ship alcohol directly to consumers, but it doesn’t extend the practice to retailers outside Michigan.
“Michigan’s law promotes plenty of legitimate state interests, and any limits on a free market of alcohol distribution flow from the kinds of traditional regulations that characterize this market, not state protectionism,” Judge Jeffrey Sutton said in a 3-0 opinion released Tuesday.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three wine drinkers and Lebamoff Enterprises, which operates Cap n’ Cork stores in the Fort Wayne, Indiana, area.
Michigan had argued that retailers would be undercut by out-of-state rivals who could avoid the state’s three-tier distribution system.