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Politics and Government

State Asks Judge To Dismiss Liquor Association Lawsuit

Wine bottles in The Spirit Shop in Norman.
Jacob McCleland
/
KGOU

The state of Oklahoma has asked for dismissal of a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of a liquor law reform measure that was passed by voters in November.

State Question 792 passed with 65 percent of the vote, and amends the state constitution to allow wine and strong beer sales in grocery and convenience stores, permits package liquor stores to refrigerate their products and makes changes to the state’s alcohol distribution system, among other changes. Retail package stores will continue to be the only place to buy spirits.

The lawsuit, filed by the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma on behalf of liquor store owner Joseph P. Richard, claims the changes violate the Oklahoma constitution and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, according to an article by the Journal Record’s Molly Fleming.

Oklahoma Deputy Solicitor General Mithun Mansinghani prepared the state’s response. Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, and ABLE Commission Director Keith Burt were also named in the lawsuit. “The public interest is clearly in favor of implementing Article 28A (which SQ 792 becomes as law),” said Mansinghani. “There is no harm to plaintiffs for violation of their rights since the Constitution has not been violated.”

The RLAO is represented by attorney Ann G. Richard-Farinha. She told the Journal Record she will file her response to the state’s motion to dismiss in a couple weeks.

“When you look at this as a whole, there’s an overriding decision by the Legislature to pick winners and losers,” she said. “I’ve spent some time on (the state’s response) thus far and looked through their argument. I feel we have strong arguments in opposition to theirs.”

 

Judge Aleita Haynes Timmons will hear the motion of dismissal on Feb. 14.

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