South Carolina Supreme Court declares liquor license law unconstitutional

The S.C. Supreme Court’s decision states state law limiting the number of liquor licenses held by a entity is unconstitutional. The ruling dealt a blow to the mom-and-pop liquor retail industry in the state. From a personal stand point this could have a serious impact on the way I track down old-stock rums and handle my rum hunts. Currently South Carolina has a liquor store in nearly every shopping center you pass because of the restrictions on ownership. Every small store has some inventory and its the bottles trapped in these stores that I seek. You never know what you might find. Its sad that those days might be coming to an end.

The ruling was in response to Total Wine & More’s appeal for the court to reconsider a lower court ruling that upheld the current three liquor sales permit law. The ruling is a big win for big-box chains at the expense of small business.

The court set a 15 day delay before the change can take effect. The S.C. Department of Revenue, who regulates and issues liquor licenses, plan appeal the decision.

South Carolina law restricts owners to three The liquor license state-wide. Total Wine currently operates stores in Charleston, Columbia and Greenville. They sued the Department of Revenue and ABC Stores of South Carolina, a trade group representing small beverage retailers, trying to change the law. A local county court ruled against Total Wine which was appealed directly to the Supreme Court in November 2015.

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