Perhaps the five wives needed only one lawyer on their side. On Wednesday, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley announced that he would sue the state of Idaho on behalf of Ogdens Own Distillery, the makers of the suddenly famous and famously banned Five Wives Vodka.
Giving the state 10 days to open its liquor stores to Five Wives, Turley started trying the case on his blog. As lawyers are known to do, Turley started picking apart the states varying explanations for the ban the claim that the Five Wives name would offend Idaho Mormons, and the claim that Five Wives was a run-of-the-mill vodka that didnt deserve a place on government liquor shelves.
This case may test the limits of the government in advancing the sectarian demands of any religious groups and the exercise of arbitrary power, Turley wrote Wednesday.
We might never know, of course, because Turleys 10-day deadline proved superfluous. By the end of the day, the Idaho State Liquor Division had announced a settlement with Ogdens Own Distillery. The agreement, said liquor division Director Jeff Anderson, grew from a shared desire to avoid unnecessary litigation costs.
Or perhaps, in the states case, from a desire to avoid losing in court. The Five Wives ban was arbitrary and poorly considered and possibly indefensible.
The states compromise allowing Idahoans to place special orders for Five Wives might not be a silver bullet. On Thursday, Turley told The Associated Press that the distillery still wants its brand stocked on Idaho liquor shelves. The state is considering the request.
This is a mess, and yet its hard to feel much sympathy for state officials. As long as Idaho insists on running a public liquor monopoly and rejecting, by Andersons estimates, some 350 brands of privately produced liquors each year the state gets all the headaches that go with this awkward governing role. Its a cocktail for controversy, all of the states concocting.