A New York state court struck down today the New York City regulation that would have limited the size of certain “sugary drinks” to 16 ounces at select food service establishments. Initially proposed by Mayor Bloomberg’s Office and ultimately adopted by the New York City Board of Health, the ban was scheduled to begin at midnight tonight.
The court held that the enactment of the rule violated the New York Constitution because it was passed by an administrative agency, the Board of Health, rather than the city’s legislative body, the City Council. Petitioners challenging the rule argued that the Board of Health exceeded its authority and “impermissibly trespassed on legislative jurisdiction” by passing the rule, while the City contended that the rule was properly passed pursuant to the Board’s broad authority to regulate matters affecting public health. In finding that the Board exceeded its authority, the court wrote that “[t]he Portion Cap Rule, if upheld, would create an administrative Leviathan and violate the separation of powers doctrine.”
The court further held that the rule was arbitrary and capricious because it irrationally applies to some but not all food establishments, and excludes certain “beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories on suspect grounds.” Mayor Bloomberg immediately expressed his disagreement with the decision and indicated that the city intends to appeal.