Walmart Sues Texas Over Liquor Laws
Walmart is once again going after the State of Texas and its liquor laws. Why? It's pretty simple, really. Walmart knows they can make a ton of money off of liquor sales in Texas, but right now they aren't allowed to sell liquor anywhere in Texas.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code (TABC) prohibits publicly traded retailers from owning package liquor stores. Walmart's attorneys claim that the rule is unconstitutional and that the state's law discriminates against Walmart and other stores like Costco and Walgreens and gives favor to smaller, family-owned liquor stores.
Walmart is allowed to sell liquor in 31 other states, but not here in Texas. The Texas Retailers Association is supporting Walmart's lawsuit against the State of Texas.
If this lawsuit sounds familiar, it's because Walmart has tried this before. According to the Dallas Morning News.
The largest U.S. retailer tried once before, in 2015, to change the law with a similar lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled in Walmart’s favor in 2018, but the decision was appealed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Texas Package Stores Association, which represents Texas liquor retailers, including Houston-based Specs, the state’s largest chain.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Pitman, saying Walmart had to make a stronger discrimination case. Last November, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, but a year earlier the high court invalidated a Tennessee law that required residency to run a liquor store.
The Texas Package Stores Association has argued before the Legislature and in court that a local resident would be more accountable than a company traded on the public stock exchanges. Walmart has said there’s no evidence of that, adding that public companies are concerned with compliance and their reputations.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Texas has around 2,900 liquor stores. Out of those, 450 are owned by five chains.
If Walmart were to win the case, they would add onto existing stores and create a new entrance and exit that is only for the liquor section.