“I Like Beer”: Non-EDVA Case of the Month

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Beer was a more central topic of a recent Supreme Court nomination battle in the Senate than ever before.  One appellate step below the Supreme Court, it was also the central topic of a recent 7th Circuit oral argument and case.

Before the Court were questions concerning a preliminary injunction about Bud Light’s “Corn Syrup” advertising campaign that was featured during the 2019 Super Bowl.  The ad campaign emphasized that both Coors Light and Miller Light were brewed using corn syrup, a product with significant negative public attention.  Miller Brewing Company cried foul, claiming the ads unfairly and misleadingly led consumers to believe that corn syrup was added to their beer.  Instead, Miller explained, corn syrup was merely the grain added to the fermentation process to use as sugar for the yeast.

The three-judge panel, featuring the always-vocal Judge Easterbook and Judge Hamilton, was treated to an extensive discussion regarding the brewing process, beer ingredients, and the overall beer market.  Counsel specifically referenced beer brewed with cane sugar, which this blog’s author found quite intriguing until he discovered it was actually a sparkling cocktail.

In the end, however, the Court seemed far more interested in jurisdictional issues.  In particular, the Court was focused on whether the district judge’s initial order was sufficiently designated to be enforced as a preliminary injunction and what power the district court had to subsequently modify the injunction while the case was pending on appeal.  As a testament to the fact you can never quite predict where oral argument will go, neither of these issues had been briefed and both parties were ordered to submit supplemental briefing.

So, open a cold one—you choose if you want one brewed with rice, corn, or corn syrup—and wait to see whether we get another round of advertisements with the Bud Knight and his anti-corn syrup agenda.

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