We know what you’re thinking right now, “SB754 has been signed in to law so what craft is left to be saved?” And you’re right, SB754 is now the, “Law of the land,” as Governor Pat Quinn likes to say. But there are still two unresolved issues to be worked out before craft beer self-distribution is put to bed for the time being; the Anheuser-Busch v Illinois Liquor Control Commission ruling in federal court and A-B’s subsequent appeal of that decision in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
In talking with those that are familiar with the courts it would appear the signing of SB754 would wipe out both Judge Robert Dow’s initial ruling and subsequently A-B’s appeal. Judge Dow’s Agreed Order, dated May 31st, appears to back that up.
“As discussed at the May 27 hearing, once the Governor takes action, the rationale for any further stay may disappear. For example, if the Governor signs the bill into law, or the bill becomes law at the end of the sixty day period referenced above, it may well be the case that the remedial portion of the Court’s September 3 order – and Plaintiffs’ appeal of that portion of the order – will be moot…If that transpires, a new law will govern the right to self-distribute in Illinois and the Court’s views on implementing the intent of the General Assembly in regard to a superseded law would appear to be of no further significance legally – except as they may relate to the collateral issues of attorneys’ fees and costs…The bottom line is that, under the case law cited above, if new legislation goes into effect that cures the constitutional defect in the prior law, the Court’s choice of remedy to fix the superseded law in all likelihood will cease to have any effect.”
Phrases like “may disappear,” “would appear,” and “in all likelihood,” don’t really give us the finality we would like but the expectation is that SB754 does the trick.
Late last week documentation was sent to Judge Dow indicating that Governor Quinn had signed SB754 in to law and that it took effect immediately, so maybe we can expect something soon from him. The latest deadline in A-B’s appeal is a little over a week away. The brewing giant is due to file its response to the ILCC’s reply brief by June 15th but, again, SB754 becoming law may have stopped the appeal in its tracks.
In following this case through the courts we’ve learned nothing happens very fast so we’ll keep close tabs on this snails pace of a process and keep you posted.
The Illinois Attorney General’s Office, today, filed a motion to dismiss appeal and vacate judgment with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Here is the meat and potatoes:
“Public Act 97–005 renders the current controversy moot, and the Court therefore should dismiss this appeal, vacate the district court’s judgment, and remand for dismissal of the action. By creating a single license that allows both in-state and outof-state brewers who meet specified production limits to engage in self-distribution in Illinois as an exception to the prevailing “three-tier” policy of the Liquor Control Act, Public Act 97–005 eliminates the former distinction between the distribution rights of in-state and out-of-state beer producers, which provided the sole basis for Anheuser-Busch’s Commerce Clause claim in this case.”