When announcing the City’s ban on large soda drinks, Mayor Bloomberg thought that he was going to make New York City a leader in the push for Nanny State regulations nationwide. Many health advocates seem to think it’s a good idea for government to regulate sales of sugary drinks and other (not so healthy) foods. So it’s doubtful that Bloomberg expected such a vocal public backlash. But people seem to be up in arms over the issue because it reminds us of how intrusive government has become in our daily lives. And for this reason the NFIB Small Business Legal Center thought it worth supporting the legal challenge to the Soda Ban.
So far things have gone our way. Last summer a New York Court of Appeal affirmed a lower court decision striking down the Soda Ban. At the time we applauded the victory; it was refreshing to see the court strike down a restriction on our economic liberties. But now the case is going to New York’s highest court in a final showdown.
Last week the NFIB Legal Center joined with other industry groups in a joint brief defending the Court of Appeals decision. We argue that consumers should be allowed the right to choose for themselves which products they would like, and that government shouldn’t seek to regulate our lifestyle choices in this manner. For this reason we maintain that businesses should be free to continue selling soda in whatever size consumers prefer.
The decision may well have implications beyond New York. If we succeed in striking down the Soda Ban, that’s a clear line in the sand. And regulators will have to think twice before adopting similar measures in other cities. Conversely, if the Court chooses to uphold the Soda Ban, that sets a precedent that will only embolden paternalism in other places. Indeed, if New York City gets away with this, it won’t be long until San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia do the same thing.