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Published:  23 July, 2008

In a landmark case, the US Supreme Court is to rule on the legality of bans on interstate, direct-to-consumer wine shipments in Michigan and New York. Winery owner Juanita Swedenburg of Middleburg, Virginia, has challenged New York state liquor control chairman Edward D Kelly, while two Michigan-based wine writers, Eleanor and Ray Heald, have brought a lawsuit against its governor Jennifer Granholm. The US Constitution's 21st Amendment allows states to regulate the importation of alcoholic beverages, and some 24 US states currently uphold a direct shipping ban. However, it has been claimed that the Amendment is in itself an infringement of the Constitution, which prohibits states from passing discriminatory laws against out-of-state businesses. The wineries claim that they are unable to compete with larger firms unless they can sell direct to customers, either ex-cellar or over the Internet; conversely, governors are worried about relaxing laws they say were introduced to protect minors. Clint Bolick, of Institute for Justice, said: A state power over alcohol has ebbed and flowed over the years, but one principle has remained constant: states may regulate alcohol by only one set of rules.' The ruling is expected by June 2005.