KENTUCKY (FOX19/AP) - A federal appeals court has reinstated a 76-year-old old ban on grocery stores, gas stations and other retailers selling wine and liquor in Kentucky after finding the law doesn't violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed a decision by U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn in 2012 to lift the restriction.
Judge Deborah L. Cook wrote for the court that the state "indisputably maintains a legitimate interest" in reducing access to high-alcohol content products.
A Louisville convenience store, Maxwell's Pic-Pac, and the Food with Wine Coalition challenged the ban in a lawsuit filed in federal court in 2011. The plaintiffs said the law treated them differently from package liquor stores simply because they sold food and other staples.
But, after Wednesday's ruling, some say they're having to turn away potential profits.
"It's absolutely not fair at all. It's ridiculous," said Shane Snyder, a manager at the Dayton Market in Dayton, Ky.
He knows there's a demand for liquor from his customers, but it's one he can't fulfill because of the statute.
"We miss out on the business," Snyder said.
"Every day you're turning people away?" asked FOX19.
"Every day," replied Snyder. "I bet you 10 times a day we hear this. They want liquor, 10 times a day."
"And you've got to say no," said FOX19.
"Yes," Snyder answered.
In 2012, a federal judge found this statute preventing liquor and wine sales unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment, allowing for "equal protection of the laws."
"If you own the store you should absolutely be able to carry whatever you want with no qualms, no problems at all," said Garrett Oppihle of Fort Thomas.
Ten percent of monthly sales or more made up of gasoline or groceries prohibits retailers from selling the hard stuff in Kentucky.
"We want to be able to sell liquor like all the other stores in Covington. We don't think it's fair that just certain people get to sell it. That's what it seems like to us. That ban would probably triple our business," Snyder told FOX19.
But for now, they're only able to cash in on what they already have as long as the ban is in place.
"Our business is hurting. All we make our money on is beer and cigarettes as it is," said Snyder.
In our commitment to balanced news, we reached out to the Kentucky Department of Alcohol Beverage Control who filed the appeal. We have not heard back.
To see the federal appeals court ruling, click here: http://bit.ly/KknGLm