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Brown-Forman Distillers Corporation v. New York State Liquor Authority

United States Supreme Court
476 U.S. 573 (1986)


The State of New York enacted an Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (ABC law) governing the production and distribution of distilled liquor within the state. The ABC law prohibited distillers from selling liquor to in-state wholesalers at a price higher than the lowest price the distiller charged to out-of-state wholesalers. The New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) (defendant) initiated license-revocation proceedings after learning that Brown-Forman Distillers Corporation (Brown-Forman) (plaintiff) violated the ABC law. Brown-Forman sought review of the NYSLA’s decision to revoke its liquor license and challenged the constitutionality of the ABC law in New York state court. Brown-Forman argued that New York’s ABC law regulated interstate commerce by controlling the prices set by in-state distillers for out-of-state sales. The appellate division disagreed and held that the distiller’s affirmation did not directly regulate interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause. Brown-Forman appealed. The Court of Appeals of New York affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, J.)

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