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Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas

United States Supreme Court
139 S. Ct. 2449 (2019)



Tennessee law imposed a two-year residency requirement for liquor-license applicants. License renewal required 10 years of residency, and all stockholders of a corporation applying for a license had to be residents. After the state attorney general opined that the law discriminated unconstitutionally, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) (coplaintiff) stopped enforcing it. An association of Tennessee liquor stores called the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association (defendant) threatened to sue the TABC if it granted licenses to two nonresident applicants (coplaintiffs). TABC’s executive director, Russell Thomas (coplaintiff), sued seeking a declaration settling the question. The federal court removed the case and struck down the law as violating the Commerce Clause, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. The association appealed to the United States Supreme Court only as to the two-year residency, arguing that the state could limit liquor licenses to residents only under the Twenty-First Amendment.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Alito, J.)

Dissent (Gorsuch, J.)

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