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No Walmart liquor stores

Some non-election litigation news of interest.

Texans still won’t be able to purchase liquor at Walmart, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a bid by the retail giant that would have allowed the booze to be sold at stores in the state.

Texas is the only state in the nation that does not allow publicly traded companies, like Walmart Inc., to obtain liquor permits — but they are allowed to sell beer and wine.

Walmart claims the law is discriminatory and has argued that 98% of liquor stores in the state are owned by Texans.

Turned away by the nation’s highest court, Walmart will now have to prove intentional discrimination before a federal trial court.

Lawyers for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said the law is in place to make liquor less readily available and curb its consumption.

“The law precludes large corporations from using their economies of scale to lower liquor prices and increase the density of liquor outlets in the State. This approach has served Texas well — it has consistently ranked among the States with the lowest per capita liquor consumption,” lawyers for the commission stated.

Not sure I buy the cause-and-effect logic there, but whatever. Walmart, which at the time still had a hyphen in its name, originally sued in 2015 in federal court in Travis County. They got a favorable ruling in 2018, which was remanded back to the district court by the Fifth Circuit (opinion here). Walmart had appealed this ruling to SCOTUS, so the denial means they have to go back to the district court and try again under the tougher guidelines set out by the Fifth Circuit. We’ll see if they proceed, or if they decide it might be faster and cheaper to try to elect a bunch of legislators who will pass a bill to do what they want. I’m no fan of Walmart, but I really don’t see the point of this state regulation. Everything we do with alcohol in this state is weird and anachronistic.

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7 Comments

  1. David Fagan says:

    You don’t want wal mart here on a legislative level. They basically own the state of Arkansas. What would this do to the beloved micro brews and micro spirits economy Texas has going for it? I would sort Texans over wal mart any day.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    You know the corruption and cronyism is bad in Texas when even Walmart can’t prevail in asking for something very reasonable. There’s no valid reason they, or any other business, should not be able to sell liquor.

    Oh, noes, Walmart might lower the price of booze for Texans if they were able to sell it! The horror, the horror. The fact that a TABC lawyer was able to make that argument with a straight face tells us just how institutionalized the corruption is, and it’s been consistent corruption through both Dem and Rep. controlled Texas governments.

    It’s an embarrassment to Texas.

  3. Donovan says:

    So I clicked into the article, then the update before that, but I’m still confused. Every Houston-area Costco I’ve been to has the on-site liquor store right next to the main entrance, but these articles all seem to say that’s impossible. What am I missing?

  4. Manny says:

    Not sure Donovan, but I think it may be that they can’t sell “In-Store”. To have a liquor shelf where one does not have to go to a separate building.

  5. Ross says:

    The “Costco” liquor stores are not operated by Costco. Costco is subject to the same laws as Walmart.

  6. Christopher Busby says:

    In situations like these it’s sometimes best to just follow the old mantra of “Follow the money”. Who benefits from Wal-mart being able to sell? Giant retailers, namely Wal-mart among them. Who loses, stores like Specs that give off a mom and pop shop front but really aren’t. In a state controlled by the party of “free market economics” the answer should be an easy transition and win but you’ll find that to be highly dubious.

    Making alcohol to-go purchases permanent would be a major win for the next lege session. Hope we can finally get rid of these plus the ridiculous Sunday sales restrictions. That said…. getting anything through the Texas lege is difficult.

  7. Wade Woodard says:

    WB Liquors own the stores that are attached to Costco. Costco does not own them nor do you need a Costco membership to shop there.

    This ruling hurts not only Walmart, but Costco, Krogers and others and ultimately it hurts us as consumers.