New Jersey craft brewery challenges draconian state restrictions on ability to operate
September 21, 2022
Trenton, NJ; September 21, 2022: Today, Death of the Fox Brewing Company filed suit against the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC) Special Ruling and license conditions that severely restrict limited breweries’ ability to advertise events and grow their businesses.
“ABC’s new rules are a transparent attempt to favor one kind of business—bars and restaurants—over another—craft breweries,” said Caleb Trotter, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “What’s more, the restriction on event advertising is an unjustifiable imposition on the free speech of breweries.”
In 2019, ABC issued a Special Ruling that placed onerous new regulations on all aspects of craft brewer operations—ranging from prohibitions on on-site food trucks, to regulating how many televisions may be placed in a brewery (and how large those televisions may be), to requiring a registry of guests who complete brewery tours, and more. The restrictions were imposed as conditions on the licenses of all limited breweries in the state effective July 1, 2022. The most troublesome of these new rules prohibits Death of the Fox and other breweries from advertising more than 25 events per year—a clearly unconstitutional restriction on speech. Worse still, the rules define “event” to include things like open mic and trivia nights, or even airing the MLB playoffs—things that many breweries are accustomed to hosting on a weekly basis.
The rules were also enacted without the proper process. “State agencies cannot just craft rules behind closed doors without transparency or any opportunity for public involvement,” said Luke Wake, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “State law requires that when an agency wants to impose rules affecting our lives and our livelihood, we must at least have an opportunity to voice our concerns. And agencies are required to submit regulations to the legislature—which can decide whether to override this sort of agency action.”
The case is Death of the Fox Brewing Co. v. New Jersey Div. of Alcoholic Beverage Control, filed in Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division. Death of the Fox Brewing Company is represented free of charge by Pacific Legal Foundation.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.