DOJ: News Release

McGrath: State Will Not Appeal Liquor-License Decision

HELENA – Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath announced Thursday that the state will not appeal a recent District Court decision striking down a Montana law banning non-residents from owning liquor licenses.

On May 11th, District Court Judge Thomas C. Honzel found that the Montana law requiring liquor-license holders to be residents of the state was unconstitutional.

About one week later, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a Michigan law restricting interstate wine sales was invalid. Both decisions used a similar analysis, concluding that the provisions discriminated against out-of-state interests and were in violation of constitutional provisions protecting interstate commerce.

“Any thoughts the state had of appealing were resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court’s wine importation opinion,” McGrath said. “That opinion takes away all of the arguments we had to defend our statute.”

Effective immediately, the State of Montana will allow out-of-state residents to apply for liquor and gaming licenses. Gene Huntington, administrator of the Department of Justice’s Gambling Control Division, said that out-of-state applicants will be subject to the same background investigations and review that in-state applicants undergo.

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