Texas is the only state in the nation that issues package store permits to privately owned corporations, but refuses to allow publicly owned corporations to participate in the retail liquor market. Texas is also the only state that gives certain favored businesses unlimited numbers of package store permits while limiting everyone else to only five.
Three years ago, Walmart sued the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, arguing state liquor laws unfairly gave family-owned chains the right to obtain unlimited liquor store permits while shutting them out of the market.
Now, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman issued a decision striking down Texas laws that have prevented publicly traded corporations from obtaining package store permits and selling liquor in Texas.
Texans for Consumer Freedom spokesperson Travis Thomas said, “We applaud Judge Pitman’s decision that these unfair Texas laws violate the U.S. Constitution. For decades, these laws have stood in stark contrast to Texas values. The State of Texas should not pick winners and losers in private industry.”
The Texas Package Stores Association represents liquor store owners in the state.
The Texas Package Stores Association, which has fought to keep the law on the books and intervened as a defendant in the lawsuit, promised to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Texas Package Stores Association’s Lance Lively issued a statement:
“The Texas Package Stores Association is disappointed in the trial court’s decision to overturn decades of Texas law regulating the sale of liquor in Texas. The Texas Legislature put a system in place to ensure safe access to alcoholic beverages in Texas, and that system has worked for over 80 years. We will appeal the trial court’s decision and continue to fight for family-owned liquor store owners against the world’s largest corporate entities that seek to inflate their profits by upending sensible state laws that protect both consumers and small businesses.”
TABC declined comment because of the lawsuit.