A Challenge to Virginia’s Very Bad Happy Hour Regulations

I lived in Northern Virginia for pert near ten years. Shortly after moving there, I learned from Scott Bullock at the Institute for Justice that Virginia had a particularly bad set of rules governing alcohol.

Every bar owner, for example, is required to pay the full list retail price for booze. No case discounts. No promotional benefits for buying this versus that. Oh, and all of that alcohol has to be purchased at the same state-owned stores where the rest of us get our booze.

But it didn’t stop there. Bar owners also are prohibited from alerting potential customers to information about drink specials. That is, bars aren’t allowed to tell passersby about the actual benefits of their own happy hours.

Austin Bragg and I produced a short video detailing this issue in 2009.

Now, thank goodness, the Pacific Legal Foundation and Chef Geoff are challenging these rules. The restrictions are obviously unconstitutional, but commercial speech just hasn’t received the protection it deserves.

The Virginia rules strictly circumscribe the acceptable terminology for advertising happy hours. The firm’s case notes say, “While the state allows happy hour specials, it bans advertising happy hour prices, as well as the use of any terms other than ‘happy hour’ or ‘drink specials.’ Also, while restaurants may offer half-priced drinks, it’s illegal to call these specials ‘two-for-one.'”

This is an overdue and welcome challenge.

Ken Cuccinelli Wants to Make Me a Class 6 Felon?

That’s a helluva way to get my vote.

I presently live in Virginia. Under the guise of wanting “an important tool that prosecutors use to put child molesters in jail,” Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ken Cuccinelli wants to restore a ban on oral and anal sex in the commonwealth. The ban was struck down earlier this year as unconstitutional following the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision.

From Mother Jones:

Cuccinelli claims he will only use the sodomy law to bring cases involving minors or sexual assault, and argues that Virginians need not worry about him prosecuting “consenting adults,” because the part of the law that would enable him to do so was defanged by the Supreme Court’s Lawrence decision. But in 2004, when a bipartisan group of state Senators was trying to fix the sodomy law so that it would only apply to cases involving minors and non-consensual sex, Cuccinelli, then a state Senator, blocked the effort. And in 2009, as my colleague Andy Kroll has noted, Cuccinelli made clear that he objected to oral and anal sex (at least between gay people) on principle, telling the Virginian-Pilot, “My view is that homosexual acts—not homosexuality, but homosexual acts—are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law-based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that…They don’t comport with natural law.”

If this struggle is really about people who prey on the young and defenseless, why isn’t he merely asking for longer sentences for child sex crimes?

One more thing: If the entire Ken Cuccinelli crew doesn’t realize that most heterosexual voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia have at some point engaged in precisely the kind of consensual adult fun he wants to ban, he and his associates are terrifically boring and I feel damn sorry for the whole lot of them. Really, really sorry.