Walmart and Texas set to meet in court next year over booze sales
By Craig Hlavaty
September 17, 2015
Next year at this time Walmart and the state of Texas are due in a Texas courtroom to argue whether or not the discount retailer can sell hard liquor at its stores in the Lone Star State.
The Southeast Texas Record reported this week that a Sept. 26, 2016 trial date has been set for the two to square off over the decision. Discovery is due to be completed by the end of March 2016.
Earlier this year a judge denied a request by the state for the case to be dismissed.
A lawsuit filed earlier this year alleges the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—the “Equal Protection Clause”—by imposing “arbitrary and irrational discrimination” that prevents Walmart from dealing booze.
“Texas’ ban against some but not all public corporations is nothing more than naked economic protectionism and violates the Constitution by arbitrarily excluding Walmart and other public corporations from the retail spirits market,” the lawsuit said.
Texas bans publicly-traded companies with more than 35 shareholders from selling hard liquor, the AP reports. The Walmart complaint calls the law “irrational, unnecessary and unfair” and “harmful to Texas and to Walmart’s profits.” Furthermore, a company or person cannot hold more than five liquor store permits in Texas.
The Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission says Walmart is trying to go around state legislature by filing a suit alleging constitutional violations. Walmart just thinks it’s the state’s way of hindering free enterprise.
Walmart contends that its customers want to be able to buy distilled spirits in its stores. Walmart and Sam’s Club are already the leading retailers of wine and beer in the state. They currently sell liquor in 25 other states.
Some are worried that a ruling in the mega-retailer’s favor would be a big blow to traditional liquor stores in Texas.
Walmart doesn’t want to sell liquor inside their stores but rather in a space attached to the store with a separate entrance.
This would make your local Walmart complex one-stop shop for most things – well besides porn, AR-15s, and Confederate flag gear.
Hard to believe, though, but there are some things that Walmart won’t even sell.