8th Circuit Affirms Decision Denying Wholesaler Licenses to Non-Residents in Southern Wine & Spirits case
Today the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision in the Southern Wine & Spirits challenge to Missouri’s residency requirements. You can read our previous posts on this case here, but briefly, in case you’ve forgotten what led to this appeal:
Southern sued when Missouri denied it a wholesaler’s license based on the Missouri statute requiring actual Missouri residency of the directors and officers of companies seeking wholesaler licenses. (Southern’s officers are Florida residents).
The district court granted judgment to Missouri, rejecting Southern’s claims that the residency requirements of the Missouri statute violated the Commerce, Equal Protection, and Privileges and Immunities clauses of the Constitution. Southern appealed.
You can read the 8th Circuit’s opinion here. In short, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the residency requirement law in Missouri. The state conceded that requiring in-state residency discriminated against interstate commerce, but said that he 21st Amendment authorized states to do so. The Court’s opinion basically uses this fact as a jumping-off point for structuring its analysis and decision and, as we’ve seen in some other examples, cites to that dicta in the Granholm v. Heald decision which quoted Justice Scalia’s language in the North Dakota v. U.S. case stating that that three-tier system was unquestionably legitimate. The distinction the Court draws from this starting point is one within the three-tiered system stating that Granholm dealt with the producer tier, not the wholesaler tier and that in the wholesaler tier, the dicta from Granholm via North Dakota somehow means that an in-state residency requirement is legitimate.
We’ll have more on this decision later, but for now, unless there’s a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, it looks like Missouri’s residency requirement stands.