Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


A liquor license is a valuable asset to the license holder, whether it be considered a privilege or a property interest. Liquor licenses are subject to extensive state and local regulation because they trade in a product which has historically been deemed harmful to the public health, safety, welfare, and morals. Constitutional protection against regulation is available to licensees, but the extent of this protection will depend on whether or not the liquor license is considered to be a property interest. This Article examines attributes, such as the right to obtain and the right to alienate, that are attached to a liquor license under various state regulatory schemes. An analysis of these attributes may help determine whether a license will be considered property for purposes of procedural due process and regulatory"taking" challenges. This Article also examines substantive due process and equal protection issues that confront liquor licensees who are subject to state or local regulatory actions that they consider to be unreasonable or unfair.