Maxwell's Pic-Pac, Inc. v. Dehner, No. 12-6056 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Kentucky law prohibits businesses that sell substantial amounts of staple groceries or gasoline from applying for a license to sell wine and liquor, Ky. Rev. Stat. 243.230(7). A regulation applies the prohibition to retailers that sell those items at a rate of at least 10% of gross monthly sales. A group of grocers sued the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, alleging that the law irrationally discriminated against them in violation of state and federal equal-protection rights; that it violated state separation-of-powers principles by granting the administrative board unfettered discretion to define the law; and that it violated state and federal due process rights by vaguely defining its terms. A liquor store intervened as a defendant. The district court granted summary judgment to the grocers on the federal equal-protection claim but rejected the other claims. The Sixth Circuit reversed in part, upholding the statute. Applying the rational basis test, the court reasoned that the statute conceivably seeks to reduce access to high-alcohol products, and offends neither separation of powers nor due process principles.