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Indiana Cold Beer Sales Opponents Fight It Out in Federal Court

Joe Raedle, Getty Images

The debate surrounding the rights of Indiana convenience stores and their ability to sell cold beer is foaming over this week in Indianapolis.

The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association is set to battle it out against Indiana in federal court over a state law prohibiting cold beer sales in places like fueling stations, supermarkets, and apothecaries.

Proprietors of these businesses have argued for some time that they are at a distinct disadvantage over liquor stores and restaurants that are allowed to sell cold beer. Indiana and Oklahoma are the only two states in the nation with restrictions for cold beer sales.

“Now is the time for common sense to be applied to Indiana’s alcohol laws, which are irrational, discriminatory and outdated,” said IPCA executive director, Scot Imus.

However, experts say the chances of the organization reigning victorious in the dispute are slim. David Orentlicher, a law professor at Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University says the group will likely lose to the state. He says their defense of “equal protection” typically applies to loss of rights due to race, religion or gender – none of which are the case in this situation, he adds.

However, the IPCA is optimistic that an Indiana Supreme Court ruling on Evansville’s smoking ban earlier this month will serve as a relative weapon in their case. The group believes the city’s casino exemption hung from the same discriminatory fine line they have been challenged with – being restricted from selling cold beer while other businesses get to.

The two day trial is set to get underway at 1 p.m. Thursday.

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