For several years now, Walmart has been trying to get the green light to sell hard liquor in its Texas stores.
But they keep running up against one of the last remaining "blue laws" in the Lone Star State. Public corporations cannot sell hard liquor or operate package stores.
It's basically a law designed to protect smaller local and state liquor companies that fear the competition a chain like Walmart would bring.
Well, the folks up in Bentonville took the state to federal court, arguing the law is discriminatory.
They won initially, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision.
Walmart appealed to the full 5th Circuit. And on Tuesday, Walmart lost. The court rejected the appeal.
Now Walmart must decide if it wants to pursue this to the U.S. Supreme Court. Which it may well do. There's a lot of money at stake here.
We understand the small liquor dealers' concerns. It's a fact that Walmart has disrupted — in some cases destroyed — a lot of local and regional businesses. Businesses, we should say, that operated without special protection from the state.
Should the liquor business profit from such protections when other businesses did not? It's a tricky question. Logically there is no reason for them to do so. Yet emotionally there is an appeal in keeping a retail Goliath from killing so many hometown Davids.
We will have to see what Walmart does — and what the nation's highest court decides.