If a recent federal court ruling survives the appeal process, your trips to Walmart and Costco could get lit.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled Tuesday that a Texas law preventing big box stores like Walmart and Costco from selling hard liquor is unconstitutional, the Texas Tribune reports.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, Pitman ruled on a case filed against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission by Walmart last year. The TABC and the Texas Package Stores Association argued that the law in place protects privately owned businesses in Texas from unfair competition, while Walmart and free trade groups argued that the law is inconsistent with the United States Constitution's Commerce Clause and the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

Pitman agreed with the latter, but don't rush off to Walmart just yet. The Statesman reports that Pitaman's order has been stayed for at least 60 days to allow for appeals. The process could take a while, especially if this heads to the Supreme Court. Besides, other laws would prevent Texas Walmarts and Costcos from selling hooch inside their stores. They'd have to build separate package stores. (They could just build them next door though, so that's not much of a hindrance.)

Meanwhile, we still have Spec's, which I've always half-jokingly called "wasted Walmart". I'd rather get my Scotch recommendations from an expert there than from whoever I was able to flag down in the automotive department.

So, what do you think? Was this a huge victory for free trade, or a crushing blow to smaller businesses?

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