A Case Of Special Interest Worth Watching
Special Interest in Tennessee means special privilege for the special few. We see this play out in the lack of broadband expansion caused by protectionist laws and crony capitalism, in the anti-competitive statutes that artificially suppress competition in the wine and spirits industry, and in certain laws that jeopardize property rights, including the laws that provide municipalities the authority to condemn viable tax-generating real estate that is grouped together with “blighted” property for so-called “urban renewal projects”, a blight condemnation loophole praised by the city government lobby. Of these examples, none screams of protectionism and constitutional perversion more so than the law that was customized by Tennessee legislators to protect the liquor retailers from new competition. You would think, with a new supermajority of conservatives, this would be changing.
The Ketchum family moved to Memphis, Tennessee from Salt Lake City, Utah to create a better life for their disabled daughter. To accomplish this, they planned to open a liquor store so they would have more time to spend with her. After a retail liquor license application was made, they almost realized their dream, almost.
“The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission routinely granted retail liquor licenses to applicants, even if they were from out of state. True, the laws on the books prohibited anyone who has not resided in Tennessee for the period of two years from getting a license, and anyone who hasn’t resided there for the period of 10 years from renewing it. But the laws were so patently unconstitutional that even the Office of the Tennessee Attorney General admitted as much in two opinions it issued on the subject. Relying on those opinions, the Commission’s staff recommended that the Ketchums’ application be granted. But then the Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association got involved”. – John E. Kramer, Institute for Justice
To require a residency duration for business licensure is a clear violation of the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and of the Commerce Clause, Article 1, of the U.S. Constitution, not to mention the obvious violation of basic free-market principles that are highlighted in a case scheduled for oral argument in the United States Supreme Court on Wednesday January 16, 2019, Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Blair. Lobbyist for the liquor retailers are on their own defending a protectionist Tennessee law; the state Attorney General is not even defending Tennessee’s own law in the aforementioned case. For years, Tennessee legislators were concerned about the constitutional issue of this law but chose not to repeal, made obvious by the AG opinions cited below. Now, the state of Tennessee is justifiably poised for embarrassment on the national stage.
David Seal is a long time educator in Jefferson County, as well as a recognized artist and local businessman. He has also served Jefferson County as a County Commissioner and is a lobbyist for the people on issues such as eminent domain and broadband accessibility on the state level.
This article originally appeared in the Jefferson County Post.