Last June, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that bans on direct shipments to consumers by out-of-state wineries were an unconstitutional barrier to interstate commerce, the Minnesota legislature changed state law to allow such shipments. Yet it retained Minnesota's prohibition of Internet sales and advertising by wineries. The upshot is that wineries are free to sell directly to consumers, but they can't do it or talk about it online, a crippling restriction for small operations without local distributors. The Institute for Justice, which filed one of the lawsuits that led to the Supreme Court decision, is challenging Minnesota's advertising and sales restrictions, which apply to both in-state and out-of-state wineries but not to liquor stores, as a violation of vintners' rights to free speech and equal protection.
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