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White House Considers Role in Wine Case; Supreme Court Dispute Over Internet Sales Ban Splits Bush's Political Allies
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Electronic commerce; Minors; Wines; Interstate commerce; Religious right
Author: Milbank, Dana
Date: Jul 29, 2004
Start Page: A.04
Section: A SECTION

The [Bush] administration has until the end of today to decide whether to take a stand in a Supreme Court case pitting former Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr and President Bush's brother-in- law against a coalition of evangelical Christians.

The administration is not a party to the case, in which wine producers are trying to overturn state laws prohibiting Internet wine shipments. But the White House finds itself caught between two parts of Bush's political base: business interests who favor freer commerce and religious conservatives concerned about minors buying wine.

Starr, representing groups called the Coalition for Free Trade and the Family Winemakers of California, has been prominent in representing the wine industry as it fights bans in Michigan and New York of direct sales of wine across state lines, generally done via the Internet. "The laws of these states are antithetical to the principle of free interstate trade on which this nation was founded," Starr wrote in the Wall Street Journal. "With their blatant discrimination against out-of-state economic interests, these laws are constitutionally indefensible."

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