On Sept. 27, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in the matter Byrd v. Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association setting up the next major round of constitutional challenges based on the interplay between states’ rights to regulate alcohol within their borders pursuant to the 21st Amendment and the commerce clause’s restrictions on states’ power to discriminate against interstate commerce. While the tension between the 21st Amendment and the dormant commerce clause is not new, how the Supreme Court decides this landmark case will have a significant impact on not only the constitutionally of alcohol beverage laws across the United States, but also on how and who can sell alcohol within each individual state.

Originally brought by the executive director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission as a declaratory judgment action, Byrd v. Tennessee Wine, 259 F. Supp. 3d 786 (2017) (Bryd I)centers on the constitutionality of Tennessee’s residency requirement for retail liquor licenses. More specifically, Tenn. Code Ann. Section 57-3-204(b)(2)(A), like many similar regulations across the country, restricts the issuance of retail package store licenses to individuals or corporations with owners that have been a “bona fide resident of the state during the two-year period immediately preceding the date upon which the application is made” and with respect to any license renewals been a resident of Tennessee for at least 10 consecutive years.

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