State Supreme Court judge strikes down Bloomberg's soda ban
A New York Supreme Court judge halted Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to ban the sale of super size sugary sodas from restuarants and most other venues.
In doing so, Judge Milton Tingling scolded Bloomberg for his high handed tactics.
New York state Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling declared invalid Mr. Bloomberg's plan to prohibit restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums or arenas from selling sugary drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces. The ban was set to begin Tuesday.
Judge Tingling determined that Mr. Bloomberg exceeded his authority by sidestepping the City Council and placing the issue before the city's Board of Health, a panel whose members were each appointed by the mayor.
Mr. Bloomberg said at the news conference he has no plans to bring the measure before the City Council.
Rick Hills, a law professor at New York University, said, "There's a sense that Bloomberg has an imperial disdain for the City Council, and this ruling says 'no more rule by mayoral decree.'" (Read the full text of the ruling)
The mayor has gone through the City Council first with some of his health initiatives but not with all of them.
Bloomberg pushed through a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in 2003 via the city council, but other initiatives have been decrees from on high. At least one judge has rapped Bloomberg's knuckles and said "enough":
Judge Tingling wrote that the regulations would "not only violate the separation of powers doctrine, it would eviscerate it."
"Such an evisceration has the potential to be more troubling than sugar sweetened beverages," he wrote.
The judge ruled the regulations are "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences," noting how there would be uneven enforcement within a single city block. The regulations didn't affect the Big Gulp at 7-11 because supermarkets and convenience stores are regulated by the state, not the city.
He wrote that regulations exclude other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and calories on "suspect grounds." The regulations don't limit patrons from getting refills; that provision, the judge said, appears to "gut the purpose of the rule."
Taken in moderation, sugary soda is a harmless treat. And the idea that banning large sizes of cups is going to impact obesity is absurd. But making a harmless product into a public health issue is what we have to look forward to under Obamacare. The level of control over what we eat and drink that the government will attempt to assume makes a mockery of liberty.
Being able to dictate what we eat and drink is the ultimate control on citizens. Bloomberg isn't the first politician to seek that control and he certainly won't be the last.