ANNOUNCEMENT 26 Jun 2019
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Tennessee law requiring that people live in the state for two years before they could get a license to operate a liquor store.
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On June 26, 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Tennessee law requiring that people live in the state for two years before they could get a license to operate a liquor store. By seven to two, the justices decided in Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas that the regulation illegally infringed on interstate commerce protections provided by the U.S. Constitution. While the ruling opens these licenses to U.S. citizens from the other 49 states, it also has important implications for economic immigrants. Demographic data show that immigrants account for disproportionately high shares of the owners of liquor stores and other small, retail establishments -- at least in states other than Tennessee. The residency requirement effectively blocked recent immigrants from engaging in this trade. The impact of the ruling may also extend beyond Tennessee, insofar as it implies that any similar laws in other localities would be found equally unconstitutional. It is notable that while the state of Tennessee did not defend the law in this case, a coalition of 35 other states and the District of Columbia urged the court to uphold the regulation.