Victory for Raging Bitch in Mich.


Flying Dog brewery's Raging Bitch beer, a tasty Belgian-style IPA, is no longer illegal to sell in Michigan, says Ad Age.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission in 2009 banned Flying Dog Brewery's Raging Bitch Belgian-Style India Pale Ale from the state on grounds that the attention-grabbing label had language "deemed detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of the general public."

But the commission this week reversed that ruling, citing a Supreme Court decision issued last week that favored commercial free speech rights over state regulations.

Flying Dog, a Maryland-based craft brewer, had sued in federal court claiming its First Amendment rights were violated….

"We're glad that the people of Michigan are now free to decide for themselves whether Flying Dog's beer labels are, like the beer, in good taste," the brewer's attorney, Alan Gura, said in a statement.

And yes, this Alan Gura is the same Alan Gura who argued and won the landmark Heller gun case before the Supreme Court in 2008. The SCOTUS case referenced above by Ad Age is Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, a reverberating commercial speech case dealing with violent video games that Jacob Sullum wrote about here.

Flying Dog is continuing to press its suit against the Michigan liquor commission.

The brewer said the commission's reversal was a "victory for craft beer," but vowed to fight on in court, seeking to recover damages from lost sales while also hoping to strip the state's ability to "ban any beer that they find offensive."


"But the litigation won't end until the commissioners accept responsibility for the damage they've caused by violating the First Amendment."

Flying Dog's press release on the case is here. Read Brian Doherty's 2009 Reason interview with Gura here.

Baylen Linnekin is a lawyer and the executive director of Keep Food Legal, a nonprofit that promotes culinary freedom, the idea that people should be free to make and consume whatever commestibles they prefer. For more information and to join or donate, go here now.