The Show Me State Prohibits Bars From Showing Discount Drink Prices
Source: Institute for Justice
In another instance of regulations breaching first amendment rights, the state of Missouri prohibits alcohol licensed businesses from advertising discounted drink prices both outside their establishments and inside their establishments except on menus. Last week, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a lawsuit filed by a number of plaintiffs contesting the regulations to go forward on the grounds that the case against the regulations “plausibly demonstrates the challenged provisions do not directly advance the government’s asserted substantial interest, are more extensive than necessary, and unconstitutionally compel speech and association.” This reversed an earlier lower court ruling that dismissed the motion. The Eighth Circuit Court found that “multiple inconsistencies within the regulations poke obvious holes in any potential advancement of the state’s professed interest in promoting responsible drinking, to the point the regulations do not advance the interest at all.” A similar statute prohibits distillers and wholesalers that list retailers in their advertisements from listing the retail price of their products, requires them to list multiple retailers not associated with one another, and requires them to make the retailer list inconspicuous. The regulations in question are nothing more than mandated information asymmetry that only presents a hassle to customers who would otherwise have all of the information necessary to make a decision before entering a bar, restaurant, winery, or other licensed establishment.