Monday, March 28, 2011

Testing The Constitution, Again

Flying Dog Brewery announced today that it had filed suit against the Michigan Liquor Control Commission on First Amendment grounds.
East Lansing, MI — Citing its First Amendment rights and an appalling attempt at state censorship, Flying Dog Brewery, with the support of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, filed suit in U.S. District Court on Friday to overturn the Michigan Liquor Control Commission’s ban on the sale of the company’s best-selling beer, Raging Bitch. The suit also seeks to recover damages from the loss of Flying Dog sales under the statewide ban, which the Commission issued based on its members’ personal distaste for Raging Bitch’s labeling.

The brouhaha began in September 2009, when Flying Dog Brewery applied for a license to sell Raging Bitch, the company’s 20th anniversary commemorative beer, in the state of Michigan. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission barred the sale of Raging Bitch, claiming that the beer’s label — designed by renowned British artist Ralph Steadman — is “detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare.”
You can read the entire press release here.

I've written about Flying Dog Raging Bitch previously. Beside the craft beer news angle, this story has an additional point of interest for me. Flying Dog's attorney for the case is Alan Gura, who fought, and won, the landmark District of Columbia vs. Heller decision. In that case the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does indeed protect an individual's right to possess a firearm for private use within the home in federal enclaves (i.e., The District of Columbia.)

And there's more. The Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise is headed up by Alan Gottlieb. Gottlieb is also the founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. The SAF is dedicated to defending the right to keep and bear arms as provided by the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

The United States Constitution has been under increased attack recently, and often ignored completely. I'm pleased to see these experienced crusaders fighting yet another attempt to undermine the rights defined in this important document. Whether you agree with Flying Dog's beer naming conventions or not, this case serves as a reminder that the entire Constitution is to be protected. It's not a buffet from which you can pick and choose.

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