A Texas law preventing consumers from buying hard alcohol at large retailers like Target, Costco and Walmart was ruled unconstitutional this week by a federal judge.
Under the state law, publicly-owned big-box retailers were prevented from selling spirits, though it did not apply to private retailers. But as of Tuesday night, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman overturned the law, making room for Texas to join the 30-plus other states that sell hard alcohol in such stores, according to the Texas Tribune.
Despite the win for free-market advocates, the battle isn’t over. Parties on the losing side who have fought to keep the law in place plan to appeal the judge’s decision. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the main defendant in the litigation, declined to comment to the Tribune due to the ongoing nature of the case, but The Texas Package Stores Association said it plans to file an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans. It represents liquor store owners in Texas, the Tribune reports.
“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,” Lance Lively, the association’s executive director, told the Tribune.
The appeal could take up to a year or more, according to experts, especially if it were to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, Texans will have to continue buying their liquor at private retailers.
This fight over the long-standing state liquor law has been going on for the last three years, when Walmart sued the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in federal court in Austin, arguing that the law unfairly kept them and stores like them out of the market.