Judge rules Arizona restaurants selling liquor to go is illegal

A big blow to Arizona restaurants who were selling liquor to go was just announced on Monday, Nov. 9. A superior judge ruled selling liquor to go is illegal.

This is also a loss for Gov. Doug Ducey who was named in the lawsuit filed by bar owners, saying his closure of their establishments was arbitrary and discriminatory. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich seemingly agreed with the lawsuit, saying Ducey may have exceeded his executive order powers.

The governor's office says Ducey is reviewing the judge's decision and wants to continue helping small businesses navigate through the pandemic. But, now it looks like restaurants will have to navigate without liquor on their to-go menus.

The bar owners' attorney, Ilan Wurman, says he expects the case to go on appeal, leaving the ball is in Ducey’s court.

Read the Arizona Restaurant Association's response to the ruling below:

The statement concludes by saying, "The Arizona Restaurant Association will continue its advocacy efforts on this hospitality issue by bringing legislation forward to make to-go alcohol legal in the new legislative session."

Wurman successfully argued in court that Ducey didn’t have the authority to give restaurants the privilege to sell liquor to go. Bars pay for the privilege through their liquor licenses.

"What we've argued is the governor has systematically favored the powerful restaurant industry while ignoring the needs of the bars," he said.

If the restaurants want the privilege, they can get it but the governor has to call the legislation back into session. The legislature has to make the policy decisions.