The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an Indiana law restricting the sale of cold packaged beer in convenience stores, pharmacies and groceries in incorporated towns, finding that the statute survives a rational-basis analysis. Petroleum Mktrs. & Convenience Stores Assoc v. Cook, No. 14-2559 (7th Cir., order entered December 14, 2014).
The court found that although Indiana does not have "nearly absolute" power to regulate alcohol sales as the state had argued, it may prohibit stores from selling cold beer, even if it also allows the same stores to sell chilled beverages with higher alcohol content such as wine coolers. The court distinguishes between the licenses required by liquor stores, which can sell cold beer, and the licenses available to convenience stores and similar retailers; liquor stores "are subject to stricter regulations designed to enhance the State's ability to limit and control the distribution of alcohol," including minimum ages for entry into stores and restricted days and hours of operation. Finding the challenger had failed to argue an equal protection violation, the court dismissed the case.