A state Supreme Court Judge upended New York City's ban on some high-capacity sodas that was set to go into effect this Tuesday. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who championed the ban on some sodas over 16 ounces in size, was less than pleased and said that the judge had erred in his ruling. He also said that he would be seeking an appeal for the regulations, which are supposed to curb obesity.
Why the ban was struck down, and perhaps why Bloomberg is so committed to an appeal, is more complicated than simply allowing or banning soda. The ruling outlines several problems with the law, one being that it contains arbitrary regulations and the other delving deeply into the arcane world of city politics and division of powers.
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The judge said that the rules banning large beverages was arbitrary. As we've mentioned previously, the "ban" was riddled with exceptions for everything from grocery stores to sugary fruit drinks to fountain drinks with unlimited refills. The judge further questioned the validity of the law by noting that unequal enforcement was inherently unfair, pointing toward other laws that could have been passed. Laws that banned or regulated high-sugar drinks in general rather than simply focusing on the size of one type of high-sugar drink.
Also at issue was that Bloomberg chose to pass and enforce these regulations by getting them directly from the Board of Health, which is staffed by his own appointees. By doing this, Bloomberg was able to do an end run around the City Council, which may not have agreed with exactly how the law was written or would have been enforced. Indeed, by volume, most of the actual ruling is devoted to an in-depth and utterly scintillating discussion of separation of powers following historical New York precedents.
Regardless, denizens of New York City can rest easy knowing that their ability to purchase a 20-ounce soda with their lunch remains untouched.