FVLD Files Friend-of-Court Brief in Hotly-Contested Beer Distributor Lawsuit

On June 16, 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Dow granted a motion filed by FVLD member Glenn Rice and associate Neil Rosenbaum on behalf of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild to submit a friend-of-the-court brief in a closely-watched case pitting Anheuser-Busch against the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. 

Anheuser-Busch sued the Illinois Liquor Control Commission after it ruled that Illinois law prohibits the St. Louis-based brewer and its affiliated companies from owning an Illinois licensed beer distributor.  Anheuser-Busch charges in the lawsuit that the Commission’s ruling discriminates against it in violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

For over 60 years, Illinois law has provided that brewers may distribute beer to retailers provided they obtain a distributor’s license.  The Illinois Liquor Control Commission has argued, however, that if the court should find for Anheuser-Busch on its Commerce Clause claim, it should eliminate the right of all brewers to self-distribute under existing Illinois law, rather than extend that right to Anheuser-Busch.  The Illinois Craft Brewers Guild’s friend-of-the-court brief argues that the state agency has offered no just or principled basis for eliminating the self-distribution rights of all Illinois craft brewers.