The Nebraska Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on the appeal by Whiteclay beer store owners who are challenging the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission’s denial of the renewal of their liquor licenses.
The counsel for the beer store owners, Andy Snyder of Scottsbluff, argued the commission did not have the authority to take their action because by law nothing had basically changed in the operation of the beer stores.
Snyder said, “The licensees are supposed to be allowed to submit an application and the commission reviews it to determine whether any of three factors have changed. …. and that being whether they still qualify for their license, whether the license is being maintained at the same place and whether the premise is still suitable for the sale of alcohol. None of that happened in this case, whatsoever. ”
But Deputy Attorney General James Smith said the commission did have the authority and jurisdiction through the renewal process to remove the store’s licenses.
Smith said state law says the statutory renewal privilege ” shall not be construed as a vested right which shall in any case prevent the commission from decreasing the number of licenses issued in its jurisdiction , which is what happened here. ”
A Lancaster County District Court Judge had agreed with the beer stores and overruled the commission’s decision, but Attorney General Doug Peterson then appealed, which effectively shut down the stores, leaving the denials in effect until the case is decided by the State Supreme Court.