NCLA hosted a lunch (scratch that) make it a Happy Hour & Law panel because we are talking beer with renowned constitutional lawyer Alan Gura, and his client, Justin Cox of Atlas Brew Works. Before brewers like Mr. Cox can sell beer in interstate commerce, each beer label must earn a “speech license” from the government. The license application addresses more than just mandatory warnings—it determines whether the words and images are indecent (not allowed), if they contain the American flag (yeah, not allowed), if they have images such as the king of hearts playing card (you guessed it, not allowed), or any one of a host of other standardless prohibitions. This is the only food-related consumer protection regulatory regime that licenses speech—and it’s patently unconstitutional.
Senior NCLA Litigation Counsel, Mike DeGrandis, leads our panelists in a lively discussion about the current state of free speech licensing, its impact on the craft brewing business and how government censorship violates the First Amendment.