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Judgment Day: Authentic Beverage v. TABC

I’m going to post a quick summary, and follow up later with interesting tidbits from Judge Sparks’ ruling. But in the interest of getting information out there quickly, the Judge has ruled Sec. 108.01(a)(4) of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment. . Additionally, he has ruled Texas Administrative Code Title 16, Sec 45.77, 45.79(f), 45.90, & 45.110(c)(3) unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment.

What does this mean in layman’s terms? 3 things:

  1. TABC cannot prohibit you from telling customers or advertising where they can buy your products
  2. TABC cannot require you to label your products by their definition of “beer” and “ale”
  3. TABC cannot prohibit you from advertising the strength of your products by prohibiting words like “strong”, “prewar strength”, “full strength”, etc

Like I said, be back later with more details. You can play the home game and read the full judgment here.


13 responses

  1. Awesome! Thanks for summarizing. Now the fun: diving into legal-eze for “fun reading”!

    December 20, 2011 at 10:54 am

  2. Mattisloco

    Awesome… let’s hope other Judges/Courts agree.

    December 20, 2011 at 11:00 am

  3. I just read the entire judgement and it makes me so, happy. I love how utterly unimpressed this judge was with TABC and how he even called out the state attorney general at the end. Hoping this inspires even more people to challenge the more ridiculous parts of the Alcohol Code.

    December 20, 2011 at 11:34 am

  4. Kevin

    That’s great news for us consumers. I don’t have time to read the full judgment until tonight, but it brings up so many questions. When does all this take effect? Are these current laws immediately thrown out? Does the TX lege have to rewrite them? Does something fill in temporarily? Is it a free-for-all in the market until then? Oh my, my head hurts. I need a craft beer to think this through.

    December 20, 2011 at 11:48 am

    • Kevin, I’m not a lawyer and I haven’t even seen an episode of Law and Order since 2001 or so. So in that vein, take my response with a grain of salt.

      As the judge has stricken the code unconstitutional, I believe the effects take place immediately barring an injunction from a higher court.

      On the “beer” v. “ale” distinction, the judge ruled that the State is still free to define those terms the way they have before – but the state CANNOT force brewers to call their products something they are not, nor can they prevent brewers from calling them what they are. (Basically, a brewer can voluntarily follow the TABC rules but they don’t have to.)

      Again, I caution you that I may not know what I’m talking about.

      December 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm

  5. Pingback: Judge rules Texas ABC regulations unconstitutional | Beernews.org

  6. Fantastic news! How does this affect the direct sale of beer to the public?

    December 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    • Direct sales are not affected by this ruling, Eric. The judge ruled that the plaintiffs had not met the burden to prove that restrictions on direct sales were unconstitutional.

      December 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm

      • Carlos

        will this have any affect on shipping beer???

        December 20, 2011 at 1:58 pm

      • Highly unlikely, in my estimation

        December 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm

  7. Pingback: Alcohol Regulation Roundup: January 12, 2012

  8. Pingback: Alcohol Regulation Roundup: January 12, 2012 | My Blog

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