New York Wine

IJ, Small Wineries and Wine Lovers Team Up to Tackle New York’s Prohibition On Interstate Wine Sales
Swedenburg v. Kelly


IJ Client Juanita Swedenburg


Juanita Swedenburg, Virginia vintner and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, successfully waged the nation’s leading legal battle to reestablish the American ideals of unfettered interstate commerce, especially on the Internet. 

With the help of the Institute for Justice, Swedenburg challenged discriminatory laws that existed only to protect the monopoly power of large, politically powerful liquor wholesalers who controlled the distribution of alcohol into most states—and who had no incentive to distribute the products of boutique vintners. 

So Swedenburg, California vintner David Lucas and wine consumers, all represented by the Institute for Justice, filed a federal lawsuit in February 2000 challenging the ban on direct interstate wine shipments in New York, the country’s second largest wine market.  The case raised issues of Internet commerce, free trade among the states, and regulations that hamper small businesses and the consumers they seek to serve. 

On May 16, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the prohibitory state wine laws, thus helping to restore vital constitutional protections for individuals who seek to engage in commerce. 

This is the second U.S. Supreme Court case won by the Institute for Justice and the first pertaining to economic liberty. 


Essential Background


Backgrounder: Uncorking Freedom; Challenging Protectionist Restraints on Direct Interstate Wine Shipments to Consumers

Client Photo

Client Video - none available

Webcast: Press Conference at Case Launch

Latest Release: Victory for Vintners In Wine Wars!: Institute for Justice, Small Wineries and Consumers Toast U.S. Supreme Court Ruling (May 16, 2005)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

Read the Opinion from U.S.S.C. (May 16, 2005)

Launch Release: Federal Lawsuit Seeks to End Prohibition On Interstate Wine Sales & Internet Speech Restrictions (February 3, 2000)

Download IJ's Supreme Court Brief on the Merits (July 30, 2004)

IJ's New York Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (March 8, 2004)

Decision and Order from USD Judge Berman (November 12, 2002)

Decision from USD Judge Berman re. the Motion to Dismiss (September 5, 2000)

Audio: U.S. Supreme Court Oral Argument

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:

February 3, 2000

Court Filed:

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York 



November 12, 2002: Judge Richard Berman declared law unconstitutional

December 10, 2002: Judge Berman enjoined the State from enforcing direct-shipping ban, but stayed that injunction pending appeal



February 12, 2004: 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed District Court conclusion that direct shipping ban violated constitution, but affirmed that ad ban violated First Amendment



May 16, 2005: U.S. Supreme Court strikes down prohibitory state wine laws

Current Court:


case completed


case completed

Next Key Date:


case completed

Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: U.S. Supreme Court Accepts N.Y. Wine Direct Shipping Case; Case Holds Major Implications for Internet Commerce (May 24, 2004)


Map: Restricting Interstate Shipment of Wine to Consumers

Release: IJ Appeals N.Y. Wine Case To U.S. Supreme Court (March 8, 2004)

Release: New York Wine Case Set for 2nd Circuit Argument (August 28, 2003)



Release: Federal Judge Ends New York’s Prohibition On Direct Interstate Wine Shipments (December 10, 2002)


Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Editorial: Our winey state New York Post (November 23, 2014)

Article: Vino Victory at the U.S. Supreme Court!, Liberty & Law (June 2005)

Release: Victory for Wine Consumers & Small Wineries In New York Wine Lawsuit (November 12, 2002)


Article: Courting Freedom for Vintners, Liberty & Law (February 2005)

Release: Today’s Wine Arguments Spotlight Emptiness of Wholesalers' Bid (April 17, 2002)

Article: Uphill and Against the Odds Liberty & Law (December 2004)

Article: HUGE STAKES: Pressing IJ’s Wine Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court Liberty & Law (August 2004)

Article: Breaking Down the Walls of Economic Protectionism; Liberty & Law (December 2003)

Article: Sweet Fruit of the Commerce Clause; Liberty & Law (May 2002)

Article: IJ Harvests First-Round Victories in New York Wine Suit; Liberty & Law (November 2000)

Article: Wineries Should Enjoy the Fruits of Freedom; Liberty & Law (April 2000)

Media Advisory: New York Federal Court To Hear Wine Case: Suit Seeks To Break Open Government-Enforced Wine Cartel (April 17, 2002)

Release: Small Wineries & Wine Consumers Ask Federal Court To End Direct Sales Ban (April 11, 2002)

Release: Wine Consumers & Small Wineries Win Opening Round In Battle To Allow Direct Wine Sales (September 5, 2000)

Release: Wine Wholesaling Empire Strikes Back: Eight Teams of Lawyers Now Lined Up To Preserve Monopoly Against Direct Interstate Shipment to Consumers (March 27, 2000)

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