Wednesday, January 29, 2014

State Excise Police aka Scrooge Busts Speedway Stores for Selling Beer on Christmas Day

The Indianapolis Star reports:
Indiana Excise police say a single officer cited 109 Speedway convenience stores across the state for selling beer on Christmas Day.


The officer received a tip that a South Bend Speedway served beer on Dec. 25 and she began her investigation the next day, according a news release from the Excise Police.

While visiting that store, another Speedway clerk told her that she, too, had sold beer on Christmas.

That led to to the discovery that 109 stores in all had done so. Indiana law prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages from 7 a.m. on Dec. 25 until 3 a.m. Dec. 26.
An argument, albeit a very weak one, can be made that the ban on Sunday alcohol sales serves a secular purpose.  But when it comes to Christmas, the only reason to select out that particular day for a prohibition on alcohol sales is to promote a religious belief that alcohol is an evil that should not be purchased on the day that is celebrated as Jesus' birthday.

This law is a leftover of the legendary legislative battles Republican legislators,who were predominantly Protestant and supported prohibition, had with Democratic legislators, who were predominately Catholic and opposed prohibition.  Most of the prohibition-type laws have been repealed in Indiana, but this one stubbornly remains.

It's time for a thoughtful legislator to tack on an amendment to a bill to wipe out the ban on Christmas alcohol sales.  It should also be made retroactive too to wipe out this Scrooge enforcement action against the Speedway stores.

If the legislature refuses to act, a legal challenge may be around the corner. When it comes to Indiana's alcohol restrictions, the legality of the ban on Christmas sales is by far the lowest hanging fruit.


Nicolas Martin said...

A remnant of the days when the Republicans were tools of the KKK and its 100% American support of prohibition.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Yep, Nicolas, Indiana was about the only state where the KKK affiliated with the Republicans instead of the Democrats. And the reason why is that the Democrats in Indiana were Catholic and the KKK hated Catholics. They were the Indiana KKK's number one enemy. Oh, and the Catholics were anti-prohibition while Protestants, the Republicans, were for it. Klan leader, DC Stephenson was big time in support of prohibition as policy, though he was a heavy drinker.

Unigov said...

Paul - another good post. I don't follow local news in detail so had not heard about this. The law makes for an interesting case of some very screwed up factors in Indiana.

1. The law is unconstitutional on its face. The state has no compelling reason to ban sales on Xmas.

2. When state government does something illegal, like blue laws, those in power say citizens can always go to court. But court costs a lot of money. Just preparing and filing a case costs thousands. Once in court, all the way up to state suprem court, the deck is stacked. Indiana's supremes always defer to the legislature.

3. Excise has so much free time that they have time for 109 busts over an illegal law. Contrast with police resources in 46201. Why do we spend so much money busting alcohol sales, vs tracking down violen criminals?

4. Finally, how are citizens to know what state and local laws dictate to us? I've live here 50 years and never heard of this law. Speedway is a huge company, and they weren't aware. Similarly, a local tobacco store sold cold pop, and provided a few tables and chairs where people could sit, read the paper, have a coke, and smoke a cigar or cig. Excise busted them - it's illegal to consume pop purchased in a tobacco store, on site. How would anyone know this is illegal? It's utterl illogical. The law serves no public interest whatsoever.

Rob K said...

I would happily join any suit filed against this law as a plaintiff.