South Carolina Court Upholds Three Store License Limitation

South Carolina Judge Early Doyet of the Second Judicial Circuit ruled for the state of South Carolina on a complaint by Retail Services & Systems, Inc. dba Total Wine & More challenging under state and federal Due Process and Equal Protection grounds the South Carolina law that limits ownership of retail licenses to three.

In his order, Judge Doyet noted that “virtually every court which has examined limitations on the number of licenses against due process and equal protection claims has upheld them”  and cited to several cases from other states considering the same issue.  Judge Doyet further noted that the right to own a fourth liquor store license in South Carolina is not a fundamental right.   The court found that this license limitation was a core police power and that “many sound policy reasons have been advanced to support restrictions on the number of liquor licenses allowed ay one business interest” and that the “three store limitation bears a reasonable relationship to the legitimate interest of government.”

This is an issue that legislatures, not courts will address.

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