Athens, Alabama May Ban Alcohol Sales

Voters in Athens, Alabama today have a chance to vote on a referendum which would make the city “dry” or, as AP’s Jay Reeves puts it, “return this northern Alabama city to the days of Prohibition.”

Really, though, this is nothing particularly radical. As readers discover a few paragraphs in, Athens only went “wet” four years ago and “Twenty-six of Alabama’s 67 counties, including Limestome, where Athens is located, don’t allow alcohol sales.” While the three Alabama counties where I’ve lived were all wet [And they sold alcohol too! -ed.], most do not allow alcohol sales on Sundays, as I was recently reminded when on a visit and told the two bottles of wine we’d intended to purchase weren’t for sale (luckily, we were traveling to a city that allowed Sunday sales).

Now, I find the whole notion of Blue Laws silly for a variety of reasons. Further, they seem rather obviously to be religiously motivated and thus suspect under the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment. But a general ban on alcohol sales is perfectly Constitutional and well within the spirit (no pun intended) of federalism and local control.

See Clayton Cramer for more thoughts on this matter.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Religion, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dantheman says:

    “While the three Alabama counties where I’ve lived were all wet”

    Do you really need to try so hard for someone to come in with a punch line?

  2. Triumph says:

    I remember traveling in Arizona on election day a few years ago and being unable to buy booze when the polls were open!

    My guess is that these laws were initiated to keep drunk liberals from voting. Needless to say, it worked quite well. I remember the Republicans handily winning that election!

  3. James Joyner says:

    Do you really need to try so hard for someone to come in with a punch line?

    Heh.

  4. just me says:

    Dry cities and counties are pretty common through the South.

    The city in Kentucky where I grew up was the first “wet” one you would come to, if you were driving west from the eastern portion of the state to the central portion.

    I recall the signs that would say X city 20 miles or however many were routinely spray painted on with the words “beer.”

    I think the laws are silly, but I also think they are something a community can determine for themselves.

  5. Fersboo says:

    Blue laws are common north of the Mason-Dixon also. Delaware bans alcohol sales on Sunday and Bergen County New Jersey requires non-essential stores to remain closed from midnight Saturday until midnight Sunday.

  6. yetanotherjohn says:

    My favorite is Dallas where the wet/dry was decided on precinct boundaries. It cut down on the travel time to a wet precinct (lets face it precincts tend to be much smaller than counties) and brought the voter decision almost to its ultimate conclusion.

  7. cfoster says:

    But a general ban on alcohol sales is perfectly Constitutional and well within the spirit…of federalism and local control.

    Hey, state established religions were well within the spirit of federalism and local control.

    (Years ago I was prevented from buying a claw hammer on Sunday in Austin, TX).