New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to ban large sugary drinks has fizzled in a state appeals court.
The court confirmed a March ruling by a Manhattan judge that tossed out the regulation right before it was to take effect for being “arbitrary and capricious,” which is standard legal terminology in such matters.
Bloomberg’s soda ban would have disallowed sugar-sweetened drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces in certain venues. The regulation was met with legal challenges by business interests.
An appeals panel of the state Supreme Court determined that the regulation contained too many loopholes and that the Board of Health lacked the legal authority to enact the ban on its own. The court was careful to note that its ruling was legally based and had nothing to do with whether Bloomberg’s soda regulation was a good idea or not.
In its decision, the unanimous four-judge panel assailed the law because it “would exclude colas and energy drinks but allow milkshakes and fruit juices. Similarly businesses like delis and restaurants were prevented from hawking sugary beverages but 7-Eleven could still sell its signature Big Gulp,” the New York Post reports.
The court also asserted that the proposed sugar drink ban should have been brought before the City Council of New York rather than the Board of Health, which overstepped its separation-of-powers authority in trying to enforce the regulation.
Mayor Bloomberg called today’s court decision a “temporary setback” and indicated he would appeal to New York’s highest court, which is called the Court of Appeals. The mayor also claimed that since the law was struck down in March, about 2,000 New York City residents passed away from diabetes-related conditions.
Even given the obesity epidemic, should government try to prevent consumers from buying large sodas or should individuals be allowed to make this choice on their own?