COLUMBUS, OHIO (CN) – A state bill that takes effect Sept. 1 unconstitutionally prohibits any liquor manufacturer, distributor or retailer from “employing or using in any way marketing personnel at any place in Ohio that is not a licensed liquor premises,” a retailer claims in Federal Court. The law also prohibits any “function, event or party” in private homes where anyone, including private parties, “receive expressions of intent to purchase” legal alcoholic drinks.
1-800-WineShop.com dba WineShop at Home challenged Ohio’s SB. 150, saying it “adds clearly unconstitutional provisions to Ohio Revised Code § 4305.25.” Proprietor Carolyn Wright claims “WineShop’s business model and hundreds of Ohio jobs are at stake.”
The complaint states: “S.B. 150 prohibits any manufacturer, supplier, distributor, broker, or retailer of alcoholic beverages (collectively, ‘wineries’) from employing or using in any way marketing personnel at any place in Ohio that is not a licensed liquor premises. S.B. 150 is facially unconstitutional because it violates Plaintiffs’ First Amendment free speech right to communicate to the public truthful, non-misleading information about lawful activities.
“S.B. 150 is also facially unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment right of assembly. The amended stature bans any ‘function, event, or party,’ including in private houses, where any person – whether or not they are affiliated with a winery – acts in any manner to ‘receive expressions of intent to purchase’ legal alcoholic beverages.”
Wright is represented by David Alexander with Squire, Sanders & Dempsey.