Appeals court slaps down Bloomberg's soda ban as unconstitutional

Thursday, August 08, 2013 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: Bloomberg, soda ban, unconstitutional

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(NaturalNews) Repeated efforts by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to restrict the soda-drinking habits of Big Apple residents and visitors have so far failed to get off the ground at every attempt. According to new reports, a state appeals court has once again denied petitions by the city's Board of Health to allow the soda ban to come into full effect, affirming a lower court ruling back in March that decided banning soda in quantities of more than 16 ounces violates the state's constitution.

In a move that suggests the soda ban will never actually become law, the New York State Supreme Court's Appellate Division, First Department in Manhattan found that the Board of Health overstepped its bounds of authority by approving a plan last fall to cap the size of sugary beverages served at restaurants, movie theaters, and stadiums. In a unanimous ruling, a four-judge panel declared that such policy-making is reserved for the state's legislature, the members of whom are elected into office by voters.

"The Board of Health overstepped the boundaries of its lawfully delegated authority when it promulgated the portion cap rule to curtail the consumption of soda drinks," wrote Justice Dianne T. Renwick for the ruling. "It therefore violated the state principle of separation of powers."

According to Reuters, the court took specific issue with the soda ban's many unfair loopholes, which permit large drinks to be sold at some stores but not others. The 64-ounce "Big Gulp" sold at 7-Eleven convenience stores, for instance, is not restricted under the law, while neighborhood sandwich shops would only be allowed to sell sugary drinks that are smaller than 16 ounces. Also exempt from the ban are things like milkshakes and high-calorie coffee beverages.

"The exemptions did not ... reflect the agency's charge to protect public health but instead reflected the agency's own policy decisions regarding balancing the relative importance of protecting public health with ensuring the economic viability of certain industries," added Justice Renwick.

In other words, as it is currently written, the soda ban appears to be not so much about actually protecting public health, but rather about furthering the interests of some industries at the expense of others. The appeals court recognized this inherent double standard, and decided that it cannot stand in its current form.

Bloomberg to continue his pet fight against large soda sales

But Bloomberg and his crew at the Board of Health are not giving up on this pet issue. Reports indicate that they plan to appeal the ruling again in the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, which will be the attempted ban's final stop. If struck down again, or if the court decides not to hear the case, then the whole charade will officially come to an end, according to Reuters.

"Today's decision is a temporary setback, and we plan to appeal this decision as we continue to fight against the obesity epidemic," stated Bloomberg in a recent statement. He added during a separate press conference his opinion that the city has "a responsibility as human beings to do something to save each other," implying that merely restricting the sizes of unhealthy drinks rather than their toxic ingredients will somehow promote better health.

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