Wine and Spirits Retailers, Inc. v. Rhode Island, No. 06-2224. As you may recall, in Wine & Spirits Retailers, Inc. v. Rhode Island, 418 F.3d 36 (1st Cir. 2005) (our coverage here), the First Circuit affirmed the denial of a preliminary injunction regarding the enforcement of two Rhode Island statutes that prohibited chain stores from holding certain liquor licenses. See R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 3-5-11 and 3-5-11.1. The District Court again ruled for the defendants after a bench trial, and the First affirms. Keep reading.
On the merits, the plaintiffs didn’t press their free association clause arguments. So, they are waived. However, on the issue of whether these statutes abridge the retailers First Amendment right to “joint advertisement” The court concludes that “The statute at issue here merely proscribes conduct — the launching of advertisements resulting from pre-agreed commercial strategies. Such a ban is not a ban on commercial speech.” The First also holds that any different impact that this statue has on liquor stores over other types of business doesn’t make too much of a difference because “In line with that emphasis, the precept upon which the Retail Stores rely cannot be construed to divest the states of their ability to devise specific rules for businesses in different fields, that is, for businesses that are not similarly situated.” And, since the lower court made findings on equal protection regrading this issue, they can be imported to the First amendment issues.
Regarding a challenge to a statutory prohibition against shared trade names, the First applies In re R. M. J., 455 U.S. 191, 203 (1982) and Friedman v. Rogers, 440 U.S. 1, 11 (1979), and concludes that the state’s concern regarding shared trade names was legitimate and supported by the facts found at trial.
The plaintiffs also make dormant commerce clause claims. First, they challenged residency requirements. But, the District Court found that the plaintiffs lacked standing, and the First affirms. Likewise, the First affirms the conclusion that the statutory scheme was not intended to hinder multi-state chains.