I want to thank the Federalist Society for allowing me to put on a panel about the Future of the 21st Amendment.

It was an honor to moderate this panel which featured two great legal minds well versed in 21st Amendment issues.

Professor Alex Tanford, constitutional law Professor at Indiana University School of Law. Professor Tanford has successfully challenged many state liquor statutes on Commerce Clause grounds and has been successful in several federal courts recently.

And Ben Flowers who is the Solicitor General of Ohio and was part of the team representing the Tennessee Wine and Spirts Retailers Association before he took his current position. Also, Ben clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The panel was engaging and thoughtful. We discussed a myriad of issues ranging from the effect and scope of Tennessee Wine, 1st Amendment challenges to statute liquor statutes and whether state liquor statutes restricting commerce or free speech can survive, and if the state can defend liquor statutes against a constitutional challenge.

The panelist came to some interesting conclusions and agreed that Tennessee Wine limited the scope of the state’s power to withstand constitutional challenges.

They focused on the evidentiary standard and indicated that if the state has the data, they stand a great chance of winning. If they lack the data, then their chances of winning are severely minimized.

The panelist also discussed where the state’s power to regulate is at its strongest. They discussed that great deference is provided for government regulation at the local level. For example, a government can restrict sales of alcohol on a Sunday or within 100 feet of a school. Often, they can justify these restrictions without the use of evidence.

There is no doubt that the liquor world will see many legal challenges in the foreseeable future.

Our panelist provided us a deep dive into the liquor world, I hope we get another opportunity to have them on a panel again. But with such a great success, I will guarantee that this won’t be the last liquor panel that I host.


Sean O’Leary
The Irish Liquor Lawyer


After a great panel, I enjoyed some good conversation with Ben Flowers on my right and Professor Alex Tanford on my left