In the last weeks before super size Coca-Cola goes contraband in New York City, the American Beverage Association (ABA) and other businesses are taking Bloomberg to court over his controversial soda ban, claiming that it’s an unconstitutional affront to small businesses and personal liberties. Lawyers representing big soda, small business, and New York City took their claim to Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling today, nitpicking the legality of the regulations, which are set to be enacted in March.
James Brandt, a lawyer representing the ABA, claims the way Bloomberg passed the soda ban, which restricts the sales of sugary drinks bigger than 16 ounces, violates voters’ trust:
What makes this ban patently offensive is that the regulation at issue is promulgated by the Board of Health, a group of civil servants who are not elected by the citizens, who are appointed by the mayor of New York and as a practical matter serve at his discretion.
But The Board of Health claims it’s perfectly ethical (and within their legal bounds) to pass regulations that are designed to protect citizens’ health.
According to Reuters, Brandt argued to the judge that the regulations also open doors for other infringement on citizens’ freedoms…bolstering his argument with examples of
“What comes next? Red meat twice a week but no more?” Brandt said. “No jay-walking?”
Tingling interrupted him with a smile.
“For the record, counsel, jay-walking is illegal,” he said, drawing laughs from the gallery.
Brandt’s other big argument was to point out that the super size soda ban won’t be effective in restricting consumption, as it only reaches select businesses; not all. Thomas Merrill, a lawyer for the health department, countered that “the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good,” and that the regulation is still important for protecting against obesity.
Whether a soda ban is constitutional or not will no doubt be played out in court over the next few week. New Yorkers will still be able to get their hands on plenty of soda, regardless of the outcome, but if the regulations pass muster in court, it could open the doors for a whole new era of public health policy. For better or worse.
What do you think: Is the soda ban unconstitutional?
Photo: flickr user section215