NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down Walmart-backed alcohol petition

FILE - An employee drives a lift as he pulls orders for shipment in the 100,000 sqf facility at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
FILE - An employee drives a lift as he pulls orders for shipment in the 100,000 sqf facility at the Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma (ABSO) distributor on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has struck down a Walmart-backed group's initiative petition on wine and strong beer in grocery stores. 

Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom's initiative petition is almost identical in wording to Senate Joint Resolution 68, a measure passed by the Legislature in May for a statewide vote in November on the same issue. 

The court ruled 7-1 to invalidate the Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom initiative petition on Monday, according to court documents, but has yet to release a written opinion that would offer more insight into the decision. 

Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom, which has the support of the Oklahoma City and Tulsa Chambers as well as several larger retail chains, said it was already planning to shift its support to SJR 68 and only launched the initiative petition as a back-up plan if SJR 68 failed to pass out of the Legislature.

"Voters can rest assured there will still be an opportunity to vote on modernizing Oklahoma's laws in November," said Tyler Moore, a spokesman for Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom. "We are just waiting to see their reasoning behind the ruling." 

About the ruling

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Oklahoma Retail Liquor Association's legal challenge to the Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom initiative petition.  

Among the Retail Liquor Association's arguments was that the Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom's initiative petition violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees equal protection for all under the law.

The retail liquor store owners group challenged the validity of the Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom petition on several grounds, so it's almost impossible to say if the same legal issues would apply to keep SJR 68 off the ballot, said Bryan Kerr, president of the Oklahoma Retail Liquor Association. 

"Even though SJR 68 and the Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom initiative petition are mirror images, it depends on what grounds the court invalidated it," Kerr said.

Kerr said the Retail Liquor Association is still moving ahead with plans for its own initiative petition, which also seeks a statewide vote on wine in grocery stores, but with phased-in licensing and some restrictions on distances between grocers that sell wine and existing package stores.

The court ruled 7-1 to invalidate the Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom initiative petition on Monday, according to court documents, but has yet to release a written opinion that would offer more insight into the decision.

Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›

Comments