The “Bad Beer Law”

Laws prohibiting the consumption of alcoholic drinks by young persons have been around for along time in the US. However, these laws were only inclined on barring of alcohol to young persons but did not emphasize on the barring of consumption by young persons or even the provision of alcohol by adults, a thing that has seen more restrictive measures being instituted by the federal and state legislatures.

For instance, legislators in 1959 passed the 1959 city ordinance or commonly referred to as the “Bad Beer Law” which sought to impose more discriminative restrictions based on gender whereby boys of 18 years and below were barred from drinking or possessing 2.7% beer while the age limit for the girls for the same was set at 16 years. The case of Mr. Demure and Ms. Rowdy both 18 years old, whereby he (Mr. Demure) was arrested on charges of possessing 2.7% beer is a typical one.

In virtually all the fifty states of the U S minors (a term used to refer to persons under the age of 21 years) are barred from possessing, purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages. However, on a state basis there exists various exceptions that may render possessing, purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages by minors legal.

The case of Mr. Demure presented to a supreme court is bound to be based on the particular state where he committed the offence. For instance, some states considers the possessing, purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages not illegal when; (1) a parent/legal guardian is present or consents, and; (2) for married minors, when minor’s  spouse is present or consents, with some states specifying that the spouse of legal age while others do not.  [APIS, 2008] In regards to the “Bad Beer Law” which was based on gender discriminative behaviors of young people, the Supreme Court is likely to rule that Mr. demure was not in any way violating laws that prohibit underage possessing, purchasing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages.

This is simply because he was with his partner and therefore it follows that his purchasing of the beer was consented by his partner, Ms. Rowdy.  Further, the court may find fault in the case and declare the charges null since they were constituted on the basis of the a discriminatory 1959 Ordinance, this is possible especially putting into consideration the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment that bar federal or state or state governments from promoting any form of discriminatory acts. [Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, n.d]

Cases that involve discriminative classifications have been challenged by the Supreme Court especially if such classifications are deemed suspect or contrary to the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment all which bar federal or state governments from perpetuating any forms of discriminatory acts. However, it should be noted that not all discriminatory acts are considered suspect or unconstitutional. For instance clause (d) (ii) of section of the fourteenth amendment states that;

“A state classification can survive an equal protection challenge as long as it is substantially related to some important governmental interest.”

[Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, n.d]

Again, a state has authority to discriminate based on age or gender in regards to youthful cases even if similar offences were committed and if those offences touches on public interest and safety e.g. issues such as the issuance of driving tests and prohibition purchasing, possession and consumption of alcohol. The constitution can only invalidate discrimination that is offensive, illogical, or unreasonable. [APIS, 2008]

The Supreme Court is obligated by law to employ various standards of review in view of striking down discriminatory classifying statutes that may be considered unconstitutional, these standards of review are based on the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment and they include; (1) Rationale Relationship test; - which states that a state classification can survive an equal protection challenge on the basis that “it is rationally related to some legitimate or permissible governmental interests;

(2) Intermediate Scrutiny (gender): - which asserts that a state classification may survive an equal protection challenge “if it is substantially related to some important governmental interest.”; (3) Strict Scrutiny Test (race and fundamental interest e.g. marriage): - it provides that a state classification can survive an equal protection challenge “as long as it is necessary to some compelling governmental interest.” [Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, n.d]

Mr. Demure’s case which was put forth on the basis of the discriminatory classifying “Bad Beer Law” is likely to be reviewed by the Supreme Court using the Intermediate Scrutiny (gender) standard of review. This is because Mr. Demure’s case falls within the category of gender transitional cases which can be addressed amicably using the standard of review since it scrutinizes discriminative classifications that impose transitional regulations based on gender variance. Other discriminative classifications based on gender transitions are equally handled in the Supreme Court. For example, the Supreme Court in the case of Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 87 S. Ct. 1817, 198L, Ed. 2d 1010 (1967), scrutinized a Virginia statute that barred interracial marriages.

[Loving v. Virginia, 1967] A constitutional challenge on the Bad Beer Law is likely to make holes into it as it is in contradiction and rigid to many state and federal amendments that term persons under the age of 21 as minors and therefore ineligible to possess, purchase, and consume alcoholic beverages, but allow exceptions to such people. Further, the discriminating classification between boys and girls is bound to get changed as it is unconstitutional as per the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The Ogden v. Saunders, 25 U.S. 213 (1827) case is an example of a case that involved standard of review to be decided. [Ogden v. Saunders, 1827]

                                                           Work Cited:

Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS) (2008), available at; http://www.alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/stateprofiles/, accessed on February 1, 2009

Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, available at; http://www.caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment14, accessed on February 1, 2009

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 87 S. Ct. 1817, 198L, Ed. 2d 1010 (1967), accessed on February 1, 2009 Ogden v. Saunders, 25 U.S. 213 (1827), accessed on February 1, 2009